A PROTECTIVE father attacked an innocent teenager in a village street after falsely accusing him of giving drugs to his family.
David Dart, 45, leapt from the driver's seat of his Land Rover as he drove through Rackenford and attacked 18-year-old neighbour Jack Gardner-Wright.
He punched him so hard in the face the victim suffered a broken nose and needed hospital treatment to reset it and alleviate breathing problems.
Dart told police he hit the youngster because he suspected him of giving drugs to his two teenage sons and said he acted because he did not want his family 'to end up in coffins'.
Lorry driver Dart, of Meadow View, Rackenford, admitted causing actual bodily harm and was jailed for 32 weeks, suspended for two years and ordered to do 200 hours' unpaid community work and pay £340 costs by Judge Erik Salomonsen at Exeter Crown Court.
The judge told him: "You took the law into your own hands, as you saw it. You stopped your Land Rover and punched this 18-year-old so hard you broke his nose and he had to have surgery to reset it.
"You believed you had justification for doing that and it is clear from the probation report you are still of that opinion. You need to understand there can be no justification for violence of this sort.
"You took it on yourself to assault somebody much younger than you and you need to understand that is completely unacceptable."
Janice Eagles, prosecuting, said Dart was driving through Rackenford in September when he saw the victim talking with friends and attacked him without warning.
She said he told police he was protecting his family but there had never been any complaint made against the victim and there was no evidence to suggest he had done anything wrong.
Nigel Wraith, defending, said Dart was a hard working family man who would lose his job and possibly his home, where he has lived for 17 years, if he were sent to jail.
He said: "This assault arose out of concerns he had to protect his own children. He told the police he was worried about them ending up on a slab in a morgue.
"He had strong feelings about it but regrets the way he behaved and the fact that he lost his temper. He knows he should not have done that, but it was one punch and he did not set about him or kick him."