Soldier who attacked man avoids jail

A SOLDIER who punched a man and kicked him as he lay on the floor has been spared jail after magistrates were told a custodial sentence would see him kicked out of the army.

A SOLDIER who punched a man and kicked him as he lay on the floor has been spared jail after magistrates were told a custodial sentence would see him kicked out of the army.

South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court heard that Lee Crawford, 25, based at Woodbridge, had been out with a friend in the early hours of September 2 when the attack took place.

Stephen Coleman, prosecuting, said Crawford punched a man who had been walking along West End Road before kicking him after he fell to the ground.

Magistrates heard Crawford, formerly of Paisley near Glasgow, was jailed for three years in 1997 after assaulting a man with a baton and stabbing him.

Dino Barricella, mitigating, asked the magistrates to be lenient with Crawford, who he said was a changed man since that incident and had started a new life since joining the army and moving away from his home town.

He said: “His first life was that of gang culture in Paisley where as a youth he got into trouble committing crime but he saw fit to break away and join the army.

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“He has an exemplary record and has been promoted to lance corporal. There is a stark contrast between what he was and what he is.

“He was brought up in a very tough part of Glasgow where it was the norm to carry knives and got involved with gangs.

“He had to go with the flow - if you were to survive on the streets of Glasgow at that time that is what you had to do.

“But he had the sense to break away from that.

“If you impose a custodial sentence it is clear from army regulations that he will be discharged from the army.”

Magistrates sentenced Crawford to 180 hours unpaid work and a 12-month supervision order. He was ordered to pay £400 compensation to his victim and £43 costs.

Bernie Stowe, chairman of the bench, said: “We have taken the exceptional decision not to impose a custodial sentence because we have heard you would lose your career in the army and are fearful you might revert to your previous lifestyle which we would wish to avoid.”

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