A CALLOUS attacker has been jailed for beating a man unconscious with an iron bar and bragging that he did not care if he lived or died.
Peter Milne hid the 18 inch long piece of weightlifting gear in his waistband before using it to inflict horrific head injuries on his opponent in a pre-arranged fight.
Victim Simon Bell challenged Milne by text to the confrontation in Tiverton's Pannier Market at 5 am but arrived unarmed and unaware the other man had a hidden weapon.
Mr Bell, 31, was put into an induced coma, spent 15 days in intensive care and three weeks in hospital in Plymouth after the attack caused severe internal bleeding.
Milne, 33, who has a long history of violence, walked away from the fight without a scratch and sent a taunting text which read: 'Ha, that worked'.
He laughed off attempts by friends to stop the attack. When they warned him he was killing Mr Bell he replied: "I don't give a f***. Nobody messes with Peter Milne".
Milne, who was living at Bampton Street, Tiverton, at the time but has been living at Kelway Road, Wellington, while on bail, denied wounding and carrying an offensive weapon.
He was found guilty of both counts by a jury at Exeter Crown Court and jailed for three-and-a-half years by Judge Francis Gilbert, QC.
He told him: "You responded to a challenge at the time when you were partying with friends and he was doing the same at another address near the Pannier Market.
"You went to the market and armed yourself with a heavy dumbbell bar, some 18 inches to two-feet long, which you put in the back of your trousers.
"It was concealed as you made your way to the market and when you first saw Mr Bell. Witnesses describe how you first punched Mr Bell to the side of the head so he fell flat on his back.
"As he lay on the ground trying to block further blows you pulled out the bar and hit him over the head. It was obvious from the photographs you hit him a number of times and he had eight separate laceration on his scalp.
"Another witness describes someone telling you to stop and warning you were going to kill him. You replied 'I don't give a f***. Nobody f***s with Peter Milne. You walked off and left Mr Bell on the ground bleeding profusely.
"You claimed he tried to slice you with a Stanley knife but nobody else saw a blade. I reject that explanation. It was a sustained and repeated assault with a weapon."
Earlier, Mr Jonathan Barnes, prosecuting, said Milne has previous convictions for 70 offences dating back to his teens, including seven of violence.
He had been in court just eight days before the fight in November 2011 for a public order offence.
Mr Nicolas Gerasimidis, defending, said: "Milne did not start this fight. The victim suggested it in text messages. If it had not been for Mr Bell, it is unlikely this incident would have happened at all."
During two trials at Exeter Crown Court the juries heard how the two men were at separate late night parties in Angel Hill and Bampton Street when Mr Bell sent texts which set up the fight.
These included taunts such as 'get your puppy a**e over here' and threats that he would 'stick him in the neck' and 'have his eyes'.
Mr Bell came off worst in the fight. He had already been felled before Milne hit him repeatedly with the bar, which weighed around a kilogram and was used to hold exercise weights.
The victim said he had no memory of the fight because of his severe head injuries.
He said: "I have no recollection of the circumstances that led me to being in hospital. I have made a good recovery and been told it is a miracle I have done so."