A BOATER visiting Skipton never wanted to return to the area after being subjected to an unprovoked assault on the canal towpath, heard magistrates.

His attacker, George Wild, 24, who had been with a group of friends near the bus station, ran up to the boater as he used the canal facilities, punched him in the face, causing him to collapse in a heap on the ground, heard Skipton Magistrates Court.

The boater suffered cuts and bruising and said as a result of the attack he felt really scared, unsafe in Skipton, and never wanted to return, the court heard today (Friday).

The man and his wife had stopped off in the town during a year long extended holiday touring the canals of Britain.

They had moored up at Belmont Wharf and the man had gone to use the boating facilities when Wild chased after him, confronted him and punched him.

The court heard that Wild, who admitted assault by beating, had wrongly believed the man was responsible for an assault on his younger sister.

Nadine Clough, prosecuting, said Wild was amongst a group of 16 to 25 year olds gathered at the back of the bus station.

It was about 8.15pm on July 16 when after arriving in the town in the morning, the boater had walked past the group.

Wild made some gestures to the man and said to him 'don't ignore me' to which the man responded he was not ignoring him and carried on walking.

He then heard someone running up behind him and felt a blow to his face. He assumed he had been punched, and fell in a heap on the ground before then trying to gather himself together in case of a further punch, said Ms Clough.

He saw Wild running back towards the group and being pursued by police officers.

In a statement, the man said it was an unprovoked attack, that he was really scared and that his wife had wanted to leave straight away. He said it had been a cowardly attack and could have been much worse, had the assault been on someone with health issues.

The assault was witnessed by another person who saw Wild confront the man and assault him, describing it as a 'shameful act'.

Wild, who had moved out of Skipton and now lives in a room in a pub in Keighley, told police he had been drinking with friends on the day.

In mitigation, Gulfraz Khan said Wild had made full admissions to the police immediately afterwards.

It had been out of character and he had wrongly believed the man was responsible for an assault on his younger sibling and was very remorseful.

Mr Khan added the incident had been over very quickly, said the injuries suffered by the man had been of a 'low level' and there was no suggestion of long term issues.

Wild, of South Street, Keighley, will be sentenced on January 12 after reports.