TWO vigilantes who beat up a drug dealer for selling cannabis to a young girl have been handed nine and six month jail sentences after they admitted wounding offences.

The victim was beaten with a kettle – used with such force that the handle broke - and then hit and kicked by his attackers Wayne Coonan and Stephen Clayton.

Coonan, who had armed himself with a lump hammer, and Clayton were both said to be irked about drug dealing taking place at the complainant’s home in Brotton, east Cleveland, and an apparent lack of action by the police.

But The Recorder of Middlesbrough Judge Simon Bourne-Arton said neither man had the right to take the law into their own hands.

The judge said Coonan was “no stranger to violence”, having previous convictions for a stabbing, possession of a firearm and breaking a man’s jaw, and “could not take a high moral standpoint”.

Clayton also had a previous conviction for robbery and had attempted to bite a man’s nose off during a shop theft.

Prosecuting at Teesside Crown Court, Sue Jacobs said the attack happened while the complainant had been at home with his partner and their children on the afternoon of January 12 this year.

The woman fled upstairs and called 999 after her exit out of the house was blocked by a laughing Coonan, leaving the victim to bear the brunt of the assault.

Mrs Jacobs said the complainant was punched to the head and hit with a kettle. She said: “[He] fell to his knees and recalls being kicked numerous times by both males.

“It is clear from the 999 call that it was a very distressing incident.”

Clayton, 42, of Wharton Street, Skelton, was arrested and later picked out in an identity parade.

Coonan, 34, of Gladstone Street, Brotton, handed himself into officers and initially gave an alibi, saying he had been in Durham, but mobile phone records disproved this.

Nigel Soppitt, mitigating, said: “He understood the victim had sold drugs to a young girl and it seems that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Meanwhile, Clayton was described as a vulnerable individual who suffered from high levels of anxiety and stress.

Judge Bourne-Arton gave Coonan a nine month jail term, while Clayton received a six month prison sentence.