Joshua Ireland, 27, was among a group of about four men who taunted the terrified kebab salesman, before demanding free food and money from the till, York Crown Court heard.
The shocking scenes in York city centre occurred in the early hours of June 27 last year, when a group of people - including Ireland, 20-year-old Calem Styan and two other drunken men -
descended on the victim’s kebab stand in St Sampson’s Square.
“The group hung around the van, talking to each other and (the named victim),” said prosecutor Danielle Gilmour.
“Suddenly, the mood changed, and the defendants began demanding free food and cigarettes. (The victim) initially refused, (whereupon) Calem Styan jumped on the serving counter.”
The victim pleaded with him to get off, but he was so afraid he finally relented, giving them a free drink and one of them a cigarette. But then the louts wrongly accused him of spiking one of their drinks, prompting another barrage of verbal abuse and dreadful slurs.
“They were shouting abuse, banging on the van and calling him (an extremely-offensive name),” added Ms Gilmour.
Styan, high on drink and drugs, began to “scream” at him, while Ireland told him “it would stop if he gave him money”.
Passers-by heard the commotion and one man tried to intervene after hearing Ireland threaten the street trader.
The “brave young man”, who was on his way home from a school prom with friends, walked up to the kebab stand and asked Ireland “what was going on”.
Ireland responded by punching him with such force it knocked him straight to the ground, unconscious.
The victim suffered a serious shoulder injury as he broke his fall following the “entirely-unprovoked” attack. He was out cold for about five minutes.
One witness said Ireland seemed “proud of what he had done”, shouting: “I just punched him once and he’s gone down!”
As the kebab salesman leaned out of his van to see if the unconscious man was okay, he too was punched in the head by someone else among the baying mob.
Styan then grabbed him by the shirt and tried to pull him out of the van. He suffered cuts to his stomach and a torn shirt, as well as facial injuries.
Ireland told him they would go away if he gave them money from the till. Petrified, the victim handed them some cash but still they continued to harangue him and one of the men tried to force his way over the counter, while another searched the pockets of the unconscious man lying on the ground. His iPhone was taken, as well as the screen from his Apple watch.
Police arrived but the group ran away. Styan was arrested a short time later, along with several others. Ireland was picked out in an ID parade.
Despite at least two other men being involved and the incident being captured on CCTV, only Ireland and Styan were clearly identified and brought to justice.
Styan, of Townend Street, York, ultimately pleaded guilty to affray. Ireland, formerly of Woodland Place, Scarborough, admitted affray and assault occasioning actual bodily harm. They appeared for sentence on Wednesday.
The court heard that the kebab salesman had given up his job following the attack and moved back to his native Bulgaria, where he ended up taking his own life.
Ms Gilmour said although there was no evidence to suggest his suicide had been brought about by the trauma he suffered from the incident in York, there was no question he had given up the job “he loved” because he was “too afraid to work there anymore”.
“He suffered from mental-health difficulties after this incident,” added Ms Gilmour.
The brave man who intervened, and was knocked unconscious for his efforts, still suffered pain and was having daily physiotherapy, 16 months on from the incident.
He had stopped socialising since the incident and now avoided “crowds and busy places”.
Just three weeks after the incident, Ireland was involved in a terrifying robbery at the home of a teacher in Scarborough who was threatened with a machete.
Ireland was one of four thugs who terrorised the “vulnerable” victim and threatened to stab him inside his flat in Barrowcliff, where they stole his TV, X-Box and three computer games. The 26-year-old victim, whose life had been “destroyed”, had to have his wounds stitched after being punched in the face.
In January, Ireland was jailed for nine years for that robbery. He appeared for sentence for the York matters via video link from Swinfen Hall Prison in Staffordshire where he is serving the robbery sentence.
He had 26 previous convictions for offences including serious violence, criminal damage, threatening behaviour and going into people’s homes to steal.
Neil Cutte, for Styan, said his young client had no previous convictions and had got involved in the incident at the kebab stand after he and others had met Ireland, a “complete stranger”, in the McDonald’s restaurant in Blake Street.
Judge Sean Morris condemned the two men for the “mob-handed attack on a lone street trader”. He branded Ireland a “thug” who had attacked a “brave young man” who had gone to the victim’s aid only to be “poleaxed to the ground, unconscious, while you were preening yourself, boasting about what you had done”.
He told Styan: “You and others besieged the… kebab van and terrorised (the street trader). He was terrified and he was cowering at the back of his van. It was a prolonged and nasty affray.”
Ireland was jailed for 27 months to be served in addition to the 9-year-sentence he's currently serving. Styan received an 18-month prison sentence. The judge praised the “brave” actions of the named man who intervened and said he would be awarded £300 out of public funds.