A soldier punched his girlfriend’s father during a boozy Christmas Day party after mistakenly believing he was going to attack him, a court heard.
Gerard O’Hara had attended Christopher Allan’s house party in Church last December when a ‘melee’ broke out in the kitchen area.
Burnley Crown Court heard how Matthew Alltree had punched Mr Allan’s son Shane Trickett, causing him to fall to the floor and sustain ‘serious injuries’.
When Mr Allan ‘rushed’ to help his son he was punched and left with facial injuries by O’Hara as he was leaving the kitchen, before both O’Hara and Alltree fled the house.
The court heard how Mr Allan, 49, made his way to the kitchen area ‘where he could hear screaming’ after Alltree had attacked Mr Trickett.
In a statement, Mr Allan said: “Everyone was screaming. I rushed towards the kitchen to try and help Shane. As I got to the end of the hall I got punched in the face by Gerard.
“He came out of nowhere and punched me straight in the face for no reason whatsoever. He punched me so hard that I flew back, hitting the floor in the hallway.”
O’Hara, 30, who is based at 1st Battalion Duke of Lancasters Regiment in Episkopi, Cyprus, admitted common assault.
O’Hara pleaded guilty to common assault and was ordered to pay £500 compensation, £750 costs and a £350 fine, or serve 14 days in jail in default.
Prosecutor Richard Haworth said the plea was offered on the basis that, although Mr Allan was not offering violence, O’Hara mistakenly thought that he was, as Mr Allan was rushing towards the altercation in the kitchen.
Mr Haworth said: “It seems that a lot of alcohol was taken by most of the guests and a lot of alcohol was consumed.
“That really set the scene for what happened thereafter. As the evening progressed there was an altercation between two of the guests.”
The court heard that Mr Allan suffered an injury to his nose, two black and bruised eyes, cuts and grazes to his elbow and bruising to his lower back.
He did not receive hospital treatment and has since made a ‘good recovery’, the court heard.
Alltree, 29, of Gospel Farm Road, Birmingham, pleaded guilty to GBH and was bailed to appear at Preston Crown Court for sentence on Friday, August 25.
‘Army very keen to have him back’
Defence barrister Sarah Magill said father-of-one Gerard O’Hara will now face further punishment from the army.
The court heard how he has served in the army since 2009 and that they are ‘very keen to have him back’.
Ms Magill said legislation under the Armed Forces Act means that a criminal conviction in a civilian court ‘causes him [O’Hara] to commit a military offence’ and forces them to take further action against him which ‘could render him inoperable and unable to be used as a useful soldier in his regiment’.
The court heard how O’Hara could be fined, have his privileges restricted, have his leave removed, or be given different punishments around the base, including being put on parade repeatedly and ‘menial jobs’ including cleaning and painting.
Sentencing, Judge Jonathan Gibson said: “It was a single blow but it was clearly a hard blow causing him some facial injuries and hard enough to knock him to the ground.
“I’m told the army is keen to have you remain within it.
“You earn a good income within the army and can certainly afford to pay compensation and a fine.”