A soldier who glassed his “mate” in the face in a pub melee over an alleged insult walked free from court - with his career still intact.
Malcolm Driver had struck Mark Fagan in trouble involving the pair of them and another man at the Lord Nelson pub, Nelson. All three were arrested over the violence, caught on CCTV and in which Mr Fagan was said to have thrown the first punch. The defendant suffered a “nasty” cut on his hand from the glass, a court was told.
The defendant (21), from Nelson, but based at the Defence School of Driving, in Beverley, Yorkshire, was spared jail after admitting affray. Driver, accompanied to Burnley Crown Court by an officer, could have put his future in the Army in jeopardy by the single blow, struck after a long drinking session. He had initially been charged with wounding.
He was sentenced to a 12-month community order, with 12 months’ supervision and must perform 200 hours unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay £150 costs and £150 compensation to the victim.
Prosecutor Mr Stephen Parker said the defendant, another man and the victim were all arrested at the time.
They had been drinking since lunchtime and ended up at the Lord Nelson about 1-30am. Mr Fagan had been watching football and was approached by his niece, who claimed the defendant had allegedly made derogatory comments about her.
Mr Fagan went over to Driver to have a word with him, did not get any sense out of him and had a word with the other man, but became “off” with him and swore at him.
Mr Fagan hit the man, the man responded and hit him back and, at that point, the defendant joined in and hit Mr Fagan with a glass to the head. The defendant was dragged out and, on the CCTV footage, Mr Fagan could be seen wiping blood from his face with a tissue.
Mr Parker said police attended and all the men were arrested. Mr Fagan was cautioned for common assault for throwing the first punch and the other man was dealt with for police obstruction. The prosecutor continued: “Mr Fagan was spoken to by police. He point blank declined to provide a statement of complaint.”
Mr Parker said the defendant was interviewed and said he could not really remember the incident and, on a scale of one to 10 in drunkenness, he was a 10.
Mr John Woodward (defending) said: “This is something Malcolm Driver is terribly ashamed of. He doesn’t fully understand why he did what he did that day and, as so often is said in mitigation, he is confident that had he not been drinking, certainly to the level he had consumed that day, he would not have done what he did. He doesn’t remember a great deal about what happened that day and all he can do is apologise, both to Mr Fagan and also to the court.”
Sentencing, Judge Jonathan Gibson said no doubt the Army would take such action as they thought appropriate over the incident in due course.
The judge continued: “The use of a glass in a public house is, of course, always considered seriously and dealt with seriously by the courts. It’s behaviour which is capable of causing very serious injury indeed.”