A dad battered a nine-year-old boy at a soft play centre after a dispute involving the youngster and his stepson.

Burly Alan Tudor set about the child while dozens of children and families enjoyed the Easter holidays.

Tudor kneed the little boy to the floor, punched him in the face and kicked him on the body - but was spared jail for the cowardly assault.

Tudor was at Pandemonium soft play in Erskine on April 9, 2014, when he launched the attack on the defenceless child, who can't be named for legal reasons.

Paisley Sheriff Court heard that Tudor, 24, was at the soft play with partner Chantelle Elliot, 26, and her son, who was aged four at the time.

Tudor and his son were playing football while other kids played nearby and their ball ran away from them.

The tot ran to get the ball and was tripped up by a boy more than half his age.

The details emerged when Tudor appeared in the dock to be sentenced for the assault.

Defence solicitor Jennifer Reid, representing Tudor, explained the boy tripped up Tudor's son, causing him to fall to the floor.

She added: "He got up and Mr Tudor saw the boy doing that again.

"A scuffle broke out. Mr Tudor ran over to the boy and pushed him to the ground to get him away from his stepson to prevent him from causing further trouble."

Tudor kneed the child, sending him crashing to the floor, then punched him on the head and kicked him on the body.

The boy was taken to Paisley's Royal Alexandra Hospital for treatment for his injuries while the police were contacted.

Tudor and Elliot were both arrested over the incident and faced trial at Paisley Sheriff Court.

He had also been charged with punching the child repeatedly and leaving him injured but pleaded guilty to a reduced assault charge with saw those claims dropped.

A charge that Elliot had behaved in a threatening or abusive way on the same occasion by shouting, swearing and making threats was also dropped by prosecutors.

Sentence was deferred so Tudor could be assessed by social workers.

Miss Reid said Tudor had snapped because he saw his step-son being attacked.

She explained: "He was angered by the way the boy had acted towards his young stepson, who was only four at the time and was very upset by this.

"He is very remorseful and can only attribute this to acting in anger at the time."

The lawyer said he was at University doing a degree in Construction Management, had a job as a site manager lined up for when he graduates, and had been assessed as being a low risk of reoffending.

Sheriff Seith Ireland spared him prison and made him the subject of a Community Payback Order as a direct alternative to custody.

He said: "You could go to custody for this due to the fact that it's an assault on a young child aged nine.

"This is the sort of thing the public would be interested in to discover whether the court has to mete out the most serious punishment.

"You should never, in quotation marks, 'lift your hands' to a child in this world."

He ordered Tudor, of Dalmuir, to be supervised by social workers for the next year and gave him the same length of time to carry out 150 hours' unpaid work.