VIOLENCE flared at a family pub in the New Forest when a crane driver hurled racial abuse at a neighbour with a German background.

William Robinson, 39, has been jailed for four months following his shocking outburst at Stuart Abrams.

Tension, which had simmered between the pair, appeared to have ended when they met at a summer barbecue, a court heard.

But it flared up again in a row in the street and five days later boiled over when Robinson and Mr Abrams were in the Gamekeeper pub at Woodlands, near Ashurst.

The victim felt intimidated when, with his back against a pole, he was confronted by Robinson who then challenged Mr Abrams, who is English with a German father: "Any time, any place, anywhere."

Andy Houston, prosecuting at Southampton Crown Court, said the pub landlady realised trouble was brewing and tried to defuse the situation but Robinson sniped at Mr Abrams: "You are German, aren't you?"

Mr Abrams replied: "I am half-German - sometimes I think the better half."

After Robinson had hurled further racist remarks at him, the victim tried to pass but was floored by a punch to the jaw. He suffered a split lip and bruising.

"One of the other customers, a teacher, said the remarks were definitely on a racist intent," said Mr Houston.

"Another customer said she was scared and the landlady couldn't believe what had gone on."

Luke Blackburn, defending, said the pair had been neighbours for seven years in Sheppards Close, Bartley, and had initially got on but their relationship deteriorated.

He claimed Mr Abrams had made a remark under his breath to which Robinson had responded.

Robinson had a problem keeping his temper and was on medication for depression.

Mr Blackburn said Robinson was politically left of centre and abhorred racism. "He chose his words of abuse because Mr Abrams is - in his view - far right in his politics. He realises how harmful racism is.''

Robinson, who has since moved to California Close, Totton, pleaded guilty to racially aggravated harassment and racially aggravated assault.

Judge John Boggis QC said he did not accept a submission in the pre-sentence report that Robinson did not present a risk to the public with unprovoked violence.

"Mr Abrams is the public and this took place in public in front of children. The fact is that you can't control your temper.''

Robinson was also banned from the pub for a year.