A 24-year-old sneezed on a man in the queue to the bar at a South Yorkshire pub, before launching into a physical attack that left his victim with a fractured eye socket and a bleed on the brain, a court heard.
Ricky Eagle attacked the man, and inadvertently injured the man's girlfriend when she attempted to intervene in the altercation, as all three were standing near to the bar at the Highgate Working Men's Club, Rotherham on October 28 last year.
The court was told how Eagle launched into the attack after sneezing on his male victim - later claiming he did so because he was concerned the man he had just sneezed on would lash out at him.
Recorder Richard Woolfall said: "You sneezed on him and he was understandably upset. You wiped it off on him, and it appears from the [CCTV] footage that you laughed at him. Clearly an exchange of words transpired.
He added: "Then out of the blue, with a big swing from your right hand, you punched him in the face. You punched him on at least one other occasion, until his girlfriend gets in the way."
Eagle's male victim was left with a fractured cheek bone, a fractured eye socket and a bleed on the brain, while his female victim was left with bruising to the chest, said Bev Tait, prosecuting.
She added: "In his victim impact statement he says it happened six-months-ago, but he's still deeply affected by his injuries."
Eagle, of Homecroft Road, Goldthorpe pleaded guilty to one count of inflicting grievous bodily harm and to one count of assault by beating at an earlier hearing.
Dermot Hughes, defending, told the court that Eagle's actions were uncharacteristic and he 'knew he had done wrong'.
"He can't turn back time, and he can't mend the harm he's caused, but he pleaded guilty at a very early stage," said Mr Hughes, adding that Eagle worked a 60-hour week and had been saving money to pay his victims compensation.
Recorder Woolfall told Eagle he was 'just persuaded' to suspend his 16-month prison sentence for a period of two-years.
"You have good employment, you have a strong work ethic and this was out of character. I'm just persuaded to suspend your custodial sentence," said Recorder Woolfall.
He also ordered Eagle to pay a total of £2,500 in compensation to his two victims and to complete 200 hours of unpaid work.