A GANG who screamed racist abuse as they went on a violent rampage through Southampton city centre have escaped immediate jail terms.

Seven men were part of the group who left bystanders unconscious and bleeding.

They assaulted seven people during their drink and drug fuelled attacks, yet only one was jailed for drug offences.

One even waved a knife in the face of two terrified women shouting: "I'm from Afghanistan, I'm a Muslim. I'm going to stab every white person."

Deeply concerned' Today community leaders said they were deeply concerned at the "lenient" sentences.

The violence started on July 14 last year after the defendants left the Bambuu Bar at Southampton's LeisureWorld.

Witnesses said they saw the group hurling abuse at people waiting for taxis and one, Suraj Bhakar, kicked a cab.

Prosecutor Dale Sullivan said Bhakar then hurled racist remarks at two women, before producing a flick knife and pointing it in their direction.

The seven men then approached another group.

Southampton Crown Court heard Bhakar and two others, Harvinder Khurda and Dalvinder Gujra, kicked and punched one of the group, Glyn Richards, to the floor.

Tripinder Pattar kicked him unconscious and Mandeep Dalviar stamped on his head. Two passers-by were also kicked and punched.

The attackers found another victim at a bus stop, who they claimed called them "a Paki". He too was left bleeding and bruised after sustaining repeated punches and kicks from all but one of the gang, Gurdeep Potiwal.

Bhakar, 22, of Derby Road in Newtown, pleaded guilty to racially aggravated assault and two counts of affray but received only a 12-month suspended sentence and a community punishment order.

Dalvinder Gurja, 19, of Botley Road in Woolston and Harvinder Khurda, 19, of Brintons Road, Southampton, pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Gurja was also handed a 12-month suspended sentence and community punishment order, while Khurda, who also admitted possession of crack cocaine and heroin with intent to supply, was jailed for four years.

Of the four others, Tripinder Pattar, 20, of Colebrook Avenue and Mandeep Dalviar, 19, of Clovelly Road in Newtown, both pleaded guilty to one charge of ABH and one of affray and received 12-month suspended sentences and community punishment orders.

Gurdeep Potiwal, 22, of Denzil Avenue, also admitted one count of affray and got a 12-month suspended sentence and community punishment order, while Hardev Phagura, 26, of Portswood Road admitted affray and possession of cannabis, though received the same sentence.

Despite the judge in the case, Recorder Richard Onslow, calling the violence a "disgraceful incident", today those living in the city have criticised the sentences.

Lorraine Barter, pictured right, of Polygon Residents' Association, said: "Although the levels of youth violence in this country are disgusting, I blame the Government, councils and courts for not clamping down on this behaviour earlier.

"Residents don't feel secure in their own neighbourhoods at the moment, and sentences like this will not help.

"Although I accept drink and drugs probably prompted this particular violence, it is no excuse and either way, failing to jail people for serious attacks like this is no deterrent to others nor an adequate form of punishment for their actions. It's disgraceful really."

Peter Wirgman, pictured below, of the Southampton Federation of Residents' Associations, added: "It's a very lenient sentence and very concerning.

"The fear of violence is one of the biggest worries our residents face, and keeps people in their homes at night instead of going out to enjoy themselves. Consequently violence like this must be punished and be seen to be punished if there is to be a deterrent against it."

A spokesman for the Muslim Council of Southampton said: "Given the violence they showed, the sentence is rubbish.

"It is unacceptable and anyone who breaks the law in this way should be taken to court and properly punished.

"In this case, the fact that they called themselves Muslims is particularly concerning given that they had been in a bar and had drugs with them. It shows their ignorance of our faith and leads me to question how much Islam they have in their hearts.

"This behaviour is damaging to our faith and damaging to the wider Southampton community and should have been properly punished."