A headless king street performer who earned his living standing still on London’s Southbank was jailed for brutally beating up another street performer who had stolen his patch.

Dechko Ivanov, 37, who regularly performed as the Invisible King in the same lucrative spot in the shadow of the London Eye, was furious that the Silver Wizard had stolen his patch.

He launched a frenzied attack on “living statue” Rumen Nedelchev, 45, battering him to within an inch of his life.

Dressed that day in a similar silver outfit with a crown and a staff, Ivanov accused Nedelchev, of stealing his audience, then clubbed him with the concrete block he used to weigh down his plinth before kicking him and then “calmly” leaving the scene on his bicycle.

Nedelchev, from Brest, Belarus, was so badly injured that he spent more than three months in hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery to remove pieces of bone from his brain. His skull had to be partly rebuilt and he was left with a 14–inch scar.

Ivanov, a father of one from Bulgaria, admitted inflicting grievous bodily harm but was found guilty of the more serious charge of GBH with intent at Inner London Crown Court.

He was jailed for a minimum of four and a half years.

The rival street performers had lived together in south London and as competition between the pair hotted up, Nedelchev was known to start work as early as 4.30am in an effort to reap the highest profits. He had tried to beat his rival to the best patch on several occasions.

Nedelchev, a former mechanic, said he feared that he would not survive the attack, which happened on a summer morning last year.

He said in a statement: “Since the attack I have felt terribly scared and been crying all the time.

“I don’t know how long I’ll live for, without the police and ambulance I would have died.”

The performance artist, who moved to Britain shortly before the attack, is now in several thousand pounds of debt, having had to borrow money for his medical treatment.

The assault left him with walking and balancing difficulties, but, remarkably, he was back on the Southbank on Monday, in costume.

He said: “I am very happy that the guy has been sentenced but I think that four–and–a–half years is not enough.

“I am very fearful about another attack, because my head is very fragile and something else could kill me.

“I am very anxious and afraid every time someone approaches me.”

Sentencing Ivanov, the Recorder, Robin Allen QC, said he was guilty of a “grossly disproportionate” attack and described him as a danger to the public.

He acknowledged that the two men lived a difficult life in “very strained economic circumstances” but said that it was a life and work they had both chosen.