Marines in 'cowardly' attack on woman at club
TWO Royal Marines who attacked a teenage woman at a city club have been branded cowards by a judge.
Thomas Hogan, dressed as Morph, pushed Olivia Cole to the floor and then stamped on her head when she refused to dance with him.
As she was helped from the scene outside, dazed and sick, she was punched unconscious by fellow-marine Ryan Byrne.
Judge Francis Gilbert QC branded them "totally and utterly cowardly and a disgrace to your corps".
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Prosecutor Will Rose said that on November 14 last year, Miss Cole was in Reflex nightclub in Union Street with her boyfriend Jason Bruce and friends.
Around 2am, Mr Bruce went to the bar and she went on the dance floor.
Hogan, who had been drinking, tried to dance with her, but she didn't want to and gently pushed him away.
He pushed back violently, she fell to the floor and he stamped on her head "deliberately and forcefully".
Outside, Byrne, dressed as Scooby Doo, approached and punched her in the face, knocking her unconscious.
The court was shown photographs of her facial bruising, including a black eye.
Byrne then walked to the Two Trees pub, where he was detained and handed to the Naval Provost.
He escaped from their van and ran to George Place in Stonehouse, where he jettisoned his costume by Bathwick Tyres.
Both men were arrested, Byrne telling police he'd had too much to drink and was sorry, but Hogan answering "No comment" to all questions.
Miss Cole told police she had lost a week's wages of £200, had been left with a lump under her eye which she could feel and had been out only three times in three months since the incident.
The court heard that Hogan, 24, had reprimands and cautions for burglary, criminal damage, attempted theft and disorder prior to joining the Marines in May 2009.
Byrne, 21, had no criminal record.
Julia Cox, for Hogan, said he had returned from Afghanistan to find his grandmother dying of pancreatic cancer.
On the day of the assault, he and Byrne had taken part in an auction for the kit of fallen comrades, proceeds going to their families, and emotions were running high.
He was well-respected in the Marines, was due to return to Afghanistan and had pleaded guilty to common assault.
Ali Rafati, for Byrne, said his client had no recollection of the incident but had admitted assault causing actual bodily harm.
He was a reliable, hard-working and committed marine who was due to help provide security during the London Olympics.
Judge Gilbert told Hogan he was extremely fortunate that Miss Cole had escaped serious injury, and that he could have killed her.
He said it was up to the Royal Marines whether they were retained in the service, but felt it was preferable that they stay in their jobs and pay compensation rather than lose their careers and income.
He ordered Hogan, of Bickleigh Camp, and Byrne, of Brookland Close West in Liverpool, each to pay £500 compensation to Miss Cole, a £500 fine and £765 costs, with 14 days' jail in default.