AN RAC patrolman has been jailed for badly beating up a colleague after finding him on a bed with his wife.

Winchester Crown Court heard that Chris Van Niekerk, 34, attacked his fellow RAC mechanic Neil Child after he found him at the home of Van Niekerk's estranged wife in Sherfield-on-Loddon.

The prolonged assault started in the bedroom and spilled out on to the street, and left the 37-year-old victim with a fractured eye socket, a broken nose and fractured ribs.

Van Niekerk told the police he had become suspicious of his workmate.

He said that he had peered through a window and seen the couple having sex. The judge in the case, however, said although the couple may have been on the bed, there was no evidence of sexual activity.

Van Niekerk, of Wessex Grange, Sherfield-on-Loddon, pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm.

Rebecca Austin, prosecuting, said that at the time of the attack, Van Niekerk was on a trial separation from his wife Lindsay, and both were living in different properties in the village.

She said that on the night of March 16 this year, Mr Child had gone to Mrs Van Niekerk's bungalow in Northfield Road at her request to collect a birthday present. When he got there, she became upset.

Miss Austin said: “In comforting her, they both fell on to the bed. Mr Child then gave an account of being assaulted by the defendant and the attack caused him to lose consciousness.

“The attack continued outside and there were further punches to his head that caused him to fall on the floor.”

The court heard Mr Child managed to call the police who then arrested Van Niekerk. The call was made just after midnight.

In interview, Van Niekerk told officers that he had been peering through the bedroom window, saw his wife with Mr Child, and then “acted out of rage”.

Richard Wheeler, defending, said Van Niekerk had gone to the bungalow because his employer was unsure of the location of Mr Child's RAC van.

He added that the defendant attacked Mr Child out of “extreme provocation”, claiming that he had seen Mr Child have sex with his estranged wife - a version of events rejected by Judge Keith Cutler.

Judge Cutler said: “I do not accept that at all because you told officers: 'he's been sneaking around my house.'

“You accept that you were responsible for these injuries, and on the face of it they appear quite horrific.

“At the time, you and your wife were separated and you came to the house and saw what you believed was not an innocent contact between him and your wife. Certainly, in your mind you were jealous and you lost your temper.”

Jailing Van Niekerk for 15 months, the judge said he took into account the seriousness of the injuries in imposing the length of prison term.

See Thursday's Gazette, out now, for an interview with Mr Child who said he still suffers nightmares following the brutal attack.