A DEAF, partially-sighted man was assaulted in a homophobic attack on New Year’s Day.

David Wesley Staff, 29, hit the ‘vulnerable’ victim across the back of the head and spat in his face outside the Liverpool Arms on Northgate Street, Chester.

The city-centre pub is well-known in the area for being gay-friendly.

Staff, of Ludlow Road, Blacon, along with two males, had been drinking when they came up Northgate St to the pub at around 6.45pm on January 1, 2011.

Robert Youds, prosecuting, said: “The victim has been deaf since birth. He has limited hearing and has to wear a hearing aid.

“His attention was drawn to the defendant and the other men coming up the street. They were making so much noise that even he could hear them.”

After barging into the pub with some force, the men came outside again, starting a tirade of homophobic abuse at the victim who was standing in a group, Chester Magistrates Court heard.

Mr Youds said: “The victim said that the defendant came over to him, and that he knew him and knew he was gay.

“Staff then spat in his face and, as he tried to move away, the defendant hit him across the back of the head.”

James Bagby, defending, said: “Alcohol was a clear, aggravating factor and it is clear that when the defendant drinks alcohol he has a clear identifiable problem which can be addressed by the probation service.

“The victim is quite clearly a vulnerable victim. The defendant has at least saved him from having to attend a trial.”

Chief magistrate Ian Williams said: “The bench finds this a very distasteful matter.

“We have taken into account the homophobic nature and that the victim was known to the defendant.”

Staff pleaded guilty to assault by beating and using threatening words or behaviour with intent to cause the victim to believe violence would be used.

Staff was given an 18-week suspended sentence and ordered to pay £250 in compensation to the victim.

Cheshire Police Inspector Ian Thorp said: “This conviction sends out a strong message that hate crime – whereby an individual is targeted because of their race, religion, disability, or as in this case, perceived sexual orientation – will be investigated thoroughly and dealt with robustly by police.”