Soldier must pay £150 to victim of headbutting

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A SERVING soldier, who last year completed a tour of Afghanistan, headbutted a mouthy drunk on a night out in town.

James Smith, 26, of Devonshire Road, pleaded guilty to assault by beating when he appeared before Hastings Magistrates Court on Friday, March 11.

The court was told police were called to Robertson Street just before 1.15am on March 10 following reports that someone had been assaulted outside Tintin’s.

There officers found the drunk and confused victim at the scene, with a swollen top lip.

He was taken to hospital.

Magistrates heard that CCTV footage showed the attacker headbutting the victim, causing him to stumble backwards.

Smith was stopped in Havelock Road and arrested.

Jeremy King, prosecuting, said: “Smith told police he had been out with his friends and had about four pints of Guinness.

“He was standing outside with a group of people he did not know.

“He said the victim was arguing with an older woman and he said he felt obliged to intervene and told him to show some respect.”

Smith told police he “genuinely thought” he was going to be assaulted when the other man put his hand on his shoulder, so he headbutted him.

Aiden Harvey, defending, said Smith, a corporal, was due to go on an army exercise in Scotland the day after the court case.

Mr Harvey said: “My client did intervene and asked him (the victim) to stop being disrespectful to an older person and the other man turned round and gave him a load of abuse.

“He admits there was a clash of heads.

“He did the right thing by intervening and it’s when he got all the abuse that he snapped.”

He added: “He is an excellent soldier and they (the Army) are not pleased with what is going on here today and there will be ramifications when he goes back.”

Magistrates gave Smith an 18-month conditional discharge and ordered him to pay £150 compensation to the victim.

He must pay £85 court costs.