Father-of-one Kristian Roberts was targeted by three men when he fell asleep on the top deck of the N133 bus through Mitcham, as he was grabbed round the neck from behind and then punched repeatedly in the face.
One of his attackers, Lewis Adams, 31, was identified through shocking bus CCTV of the attack, and has now been jailed for eight years.
“I hope this is a lesson to you that the court is fed up with this sort of behaviour whereby innocent members of the public, going home to their wives and families, are subjected to violent robberies and wholly gratuitous violence on public transport”, said Recorder Michael Wood KC.
“If they come before me, they can’t expect any mercy at all.”
Inner London crown court heard Mr Roberts was wearing the luxury watch - a 21st birthday present from his stepfather - when he boarded the bus from Brixton to Morden on June 11.
He fell asleep in his seat on the upper deck, and after a conversation Adams and his two accomplices went over to where Mr Roberts was sat.
One of the men “reached over and put Mr Roberts into a chokehold”, said the judge, before Adams punched the victim forcefully in the face “several times”.
“There were a number of full-blown punches, sufficient to move Mr Roberts in his seat every time a blow was struck”, said the judge.
“The violence inflicted was wholly gratuitous and completely unnecessary. They could have achieved what they wanted with minimal if any violence. The violence was disgraceful.”
Mr Roberts’ watch was removed from his wrist, and he was seen on the footage with a bloodied face going to seek help.
He suffered a fractured nose, right check, and eye socket, and spent a week in hospital recovering from the attack.
In a victim statement, Mr Roberts said he suffered concussion for nine weeks, his career as a project worker has suffered in the aftermath of being attacked, and he has struggled with ongoing stiffness in his face, altered taste sensations when eating, and difficulties sleeping and cleaning his teeth.
“I find myself panicking when we go on a bus at night”, he said.
“My wife is more worried about me now, and it affected my son who was very young at the time. He didn’t understand why I was gone and why my face was different when I came back.”
Adams, reading a letter from the dock, insisted he had been pursuaded to take part in the attack by the other two men and pleaded for the chance to apologise to the victim and tend to his garden.
“My mum told me he wasn’t a bad guy and I was tricked”, he said. “I’m so sorry, I hope the guy and my mum will forgive me.”
Adams, from Coulsdon in Surrey, pleaded guilty to robbery, as well as possession of cocaine and cannabis when he was arrested.
He was ordered to serve two thirds of the eight-year prison term, plus an extra four years on licence at the end of his sentence.