A GERMAN man “could have died” after he was viciously elbowed in the face by a Prestonpans man and cracked his head off the pavement, leaving him with a fractured skull.

Ethan Baker-Blake felled Benno Orschulik with a single blow after the German visitor spotted Baker-Blake acting aggressively towards his girlfriend during a night out in Edinburgh.

Mr Orschulik approached Baker-Blake in a bid to calm him down but the 22-year-old lashed out.

Mr Orschulik was instantly knocked unconscious and fell backwards, cracking his head on the pavement at the city’s George Street.

Baker-Blake, of Fowler Court, then ran off following the attack and his victim was rushed to hospital, where it was found he had suffered a fractured skull and had bleeding on the brain.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court was told a neurosurgeon at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary said that if surgery had not been carried out so promptly “there was a large chance he could have died”.

Baker-Blake admitted assaulting Mr Orschulik by striking him in the face, causing him to fall to the pavement to his severe injury, permanent impairment and to the danger of his life, on December 3 last year, when he appeared from custody last Thursday.

Fiscal depute Aidan Higgins said German national Mr Orschulik had been in Edinburgh for a work conference.

Mr Higgins said he and colleagues had been out at the city’s Opal Lounge club and spotted Baker-Blake and his girlfriend as they left the premises.

The fiscal added: “He was holding her by the arm and she seemed very distressed.

“The complainer and another male approached the accused and the woman and encouraged him to let go of her.

“The accused did not take well to this and told the complainer not to get involved or he would hurt him.

“The complainer did not leave and the accused swung out in anger to his face with his elbow.

“He fell clean backwards and struck his head on the ground. There was blood coming from his right ear.”

Mr Higgins said that Mr Orschulik suffered catastrophic injuries, including a fractured skull.

The court heard that surgeons were forced to operate on Mr Orschulik in a bid to “evacuate the blood clot” that had developed.

Mr Orschulik spent about two weeks in hospital and continues to suffer from a loss of hearing in his right ear, as well as headaches and tiredness.

Emma Todd, defending, said Baker-Blake had recently been employed at the Jenners store on the Capital’s Princes Street and added that the assault only consisted of one strike.

She asked Sheriff Alistair Noble to release Baker-Blake on bail, saying he could stay with his mother in Prestonpans.

The court also heard that Baker-Blake had been fined £450 in August last year after admitting a separate offence.

Sheriff Alistair Noble decided to remand Baker-Blake in custody and said the attack had left his victim with “extensive injuries with long-lasting consequences”.

Sentence was deferred to next Thursday (December 14) for reports.