Plymouth soldier launched bottle attack after Afghan tour
A SQUADDIE who hit a man over the head three times with a bottle shortly after returning from Afghanistan has avoided a prison sentence after a judge described him as a "natural soldier".
Judge Graham Cottle gave 20-year-old Joe Elliott a community order because he said it would be too great a punishment to end his career with a jail term.
Plymouth Crown Court was shown CCTV footage of Gunner Elliott lashing out at a man who had just punched his brother during an argument in a Tavistock bar.
He hit Craig Groombridge three times with the bottle, which did not break.
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The court heard the victim was left with five separate cuts to his head, the longest being seven or eight inches long.
But Judge Cottle, after hearing evidence from Elliott's captain in the Royal Artillery, said it would be "excessive punishment" to end his Army career.
He told Elliott: "You clearly have a very bright future and you have been very remorseful for what you did. You are a natural soldier."
Elliott, of Keyham, admitted on the day of trial last month to maliciously wounding Mr Groombridge on August 12 last year.
Jo Martin, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said Elliott and his brother and Mr Groombridge and his friends were in the Jack Chams bar.
She said Mr Groombridge initially punched Elliott's brother in a crowded area near the bar.
Miss Martin added: "Elliott's response was to immediately hit the complainant to the head with his right hand. He did not pick up the bottle, which was already in his hand."
She said Elliott hit Mr Groombridge three times and the pair fell to the floor grappling, with others trying to separate them.
Jason Beal, for Elliott, said he had just been on his first six-month deployment to Afghanistan. The court heard from his commanding officer saying he had been "absolutely fantastic" on the tour.
Elliott was given a 12-month community order with 80 hours unpaid work. He must pay £1,000 towards costs and £1,000 in compensation to his victim.