TWO soldiers have avoided jail despite being caught on camera brutally beating two men and repeatedly stamping on the head of one of the victims.
Shaun Smith and Jason Collins carried out the double assault near their barracks at Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire.
Shocking CCTV footage shows one of the victims left unconscious on the road before they chase the other man and begin to punch and stamp on him.
In total Smith stamps 18 times on one of the victims while Collins rains down punches on him.
Smith, 25, a guardsman with the Scots Guards, and Collins, 22, a Welsh Guardsman, claimed they had been provoked.
Teesside Crown Court heard the pair had been out drinking shots and beer into the early hours last April and discovered they were unable to return to their barracks.
A deeply unpleasant and inexcusable incidentJudge Jamie Hill QC
They then came across the civilian victims, James Wormald and Mark Thompson, and the soldiers allege something was said that provoked them into their attack.
What followed was described by Judge Jamie Hill QC as “a deeply unpleasant and inexcusable incident”.
Speaking of the victim who was stamped on, he said: “Whatever caused it to erupt, he was causing no threat at that stage and it’s a major surprise he suffered no more than bruising and was able to get up and see if his friend was alright.”
But the court was told that despite the shocking nature of the assault, both men were of good character and the Army was keen to keep them.
Pleading for mercy, Richard Herrmann, defending Smith, said: “He’s an angel but on that night he was a devil.”
The court heard the trust the Army had in the men had not diminished and that Collins had since been stationed to guard Buckingham Palace.
Two of their superior officers also attended court and both stood in the witness box to voice their desire for the two defendants to return to work.
Sentencing them both for committing actual bodily harm, Judge Hill expressed his hope that the Army would continue to employ the pair who he said both had a considerable degree of remorse.
“What I have done is entirely exceptional. I cannot say what the Army will do but I express the hope that the Army feels able to keep you,” he said.
Smith was given a 12 month sentence suspended for 12 months and was also ordered to complete 80 hours of unpaid work and pay £1,000 in compensation.
Collins was given a sentence of a 12-month community order and also told pay £1,000 in compensation.
Describing the attack as “the most violent piece of CCTV footage” he had seen, Detective Constable Andy Palmer, of North Yorkshire Police, said it highlighted the horrors of alcohol-fuelled violence.
“This is the most violent piece of CCTV footage I have seen in 10 years as a police officer and it is extremely fortunate that the victims in this case were not more seriously injured,” he said.
“This case highlights the horrors of alcohol-fuelled violence and is even more shocking given that the defendants were, up until this incident, of good character.
“I hope that people watch this footage and realise just what can happen if they do not stay in control when they are out drinking.”