A THUG has been jailed for eight years for beating the elderly Watlington grandparents of his ex-girlfriend unconscious during a violent, drunken rampage.

Joshua Darragh, 20, pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm and wounding with intent following the incident earlier this year.

Oxford Crown Court heard on Friday that on June 22, Darragh smashed his way into the Pyrton Way home of Carson and Irene Rea before attacking the pair with such ferocity he knocked them both out. He then stamped on Mr Rea’s head several times and kicked him in the face.

Darragh’s ex-girlfriend, Megan Rea, witnessed the brutal assault as did other members of the family. During the attack the court heard Darragh brandished an eight-inch knife and said: “I’m going to kill you all.”

However, he dropped the weapon as he stalked through the house and did not use it.

In a statement read out by prosecutor Jonathan Stone, Miss Rea said Darragh taunted her grandfather, a self-employed businessman, saying: “Your money won’t help you now.”

Police were called to the scene and Darragh gave himself up. During interviews with detectives he gave no comment, but later pleaded guilty to the charges.

Mr Rea’s injuries had left him “a shell of the man he once was”, and Mrs Rea’s injuries continue to affect her, according to the pair’s son Simon.

Both suffered facial fractures.

He said the beating had left his father unable to run his business, and the family had fallen into debt.

The court heard how Darragh’s life spiralled out of control following the breakdown of his relationship with Miss Rea.

Peter Du Feu, defending, said Darragh’s life resembled “an erupting volcano”, as the pair argued over a decision to become parents, and he then lost his place on a college course.

Despite spending time overseas he found himself returning to his old circles and encountered her at a party in Watlington on the night of the attack.

Darragh, of Abbey hostel, Reading, was sentenced to eight years for causing grievous bodily harm with intent, and two years for unlawful wounding, to run concurrently.

Judge Ian Pringle said the circumstances could not account for the attack. He said: “Your behaviour was utterly shocking. You burst your way in and then proceeded to assault Carson Rea and his wife Irene.

“Your assault involved striking him to the ground by punching him in the face and then stamping on his head, that caused really serious injuries.

“You then struck Irene Rea causing her to pass out. You have pleaded guilty to two very serious offences, and the effect it has had on the family will never go away.”