A soldier’s career could be finished after he was jailed for nine months for breaking another man’s jaw in the centre of Huddersfield following a 16-hour drinking session.
Leeds Crown Court heard today a prison sentence would almost certainly mean an end to Sapper Richard Maxwell’s future in the 9th Parachute Squadron.
Louise Pryke, prosecuting, told the court Maxwell’s victim, Joseph Parkinson, a graphic design student had been out with his girlfriend on June 7 last year.
Around 5.30am they went to a taxi rank in the town centre and were intending to get separate taxis home. He was hugging her goodbye when a group of four men including Maxwell, who was on leave, began making comments to him.
He replied to them “there are four of you and one of me” as he walked towards his taxi, at which point the group approached him. While one of them pinned him against the taxi door Maxwell punched him to the face, knocking him to the ground.
Miss Pryke said Mr Parkinson tried to get up, his vision was blurred and Maxwell then swung a second punch, it was not known if that connected.
The following day Mr Parkinson was feeling such pain in his jaw he went to hospital where it was found there was a fracture. He had to have surgery to insert a plate into the injury.
The court was told for weeks he could not eat properly and had to take time off university, resulting in his failing his first year and costing him £9,000 in fees.
Miss Pryke said when Maxwell was interviewed he said initially he had not done it and later that it was so long before he could not remember.
Nadim Bashir, representing Maxwell, said he accepted he had been drinking over a long period and when he saw a scuffle he reacted spontaneously.
He had a good army record without disciplinary problems and the court heard from his captain that if not jailed he would be happy to keep him in his unit where he is a radio operator. His squadron is currently in Egypt but Maxwell had not deployed because of the court case.
Mr Bashir told the court he accepted the offence merited a custodial sentence but asked if an exception could be made to enable him to continue in the army benefitting society in the long term.
Maxwell, 26 of Church Street, Golcar admitted causing grievous bodily harm.
Jailing him Judge Mushtaq Khokhar said the offence was too serious to impose anything other than custody.
He said Maxwell had met a friend around 1pm the previous day and started to drink and it was “after 16 hours of drinking” he was in the area of Huddersfield Railway Station intending to catch a taxi, by then in a group of four when he saw the complainant.
He too had been out and was parting from his friend when someone in Maxwell’s group began shouting derogatory remarks at them.
When he said something in response one of Maxwell’s friend’s pinned him to the taxi before Maxwell hit him. The judge said whether there was a second blow or not or whether it landed or not, the incident was in public while Maxwell was under the influence of drink with severe consequences for Mr Parkinson.
“There is no alternative to a custodial sentence,” he added.