A professional footballer who helped to convict a vicious thug has been praised by a judge.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that the evidence of Matthew Hudson, a goalkeeper with Preston North End, helped to convict Daniel Rafferty, 27, of Glovers Lane, Netherton.

Rafferty assaulted a 28-year-old man on Lord Street in Southport in the early hours of Sunday 7 February.

He punched his victim to the ground in an unprovoked assault and kicked him in the head. The victim suffered head and facial injuries and lost several teeth.

Matthew Hudson, 18, spotted the assault, recorded it on his phone and then stayed with the victim until an ambulance arrived.

The victim had been drinking in Liverpool city centre with friends earlier in the evening and then returned to Southport at about 10.30pm and stayed there for a few hours.

Richard Riley, Senior Crown Prosecutor with Mersey-Cheshire Crown Prosecution Service, said: "The victim was on his way to the taxi rank in Lord Street when he noticed three men walking towards him and staring.

"This is the last thing he remembers before waking up in hospital. Police patrolling in the area found him, unconscious and covered in blood.

"The Judge described Matthew Hudson as an 'impressive' witness, both for his conduct on the night and in his evidence.

"This was a serious assault. A witness described seeing Mr Rafferty behaving in an extremely agitated way, and, in his words, 'looking for a fight'.

"This attack has affected the victim him greatly. He has been in a lot of pain and is wary of going out."

Rafferty was found guilty of assault and sentenced to 2 years' imprisonment.