Soldier turned to alcohol after serving in Afghanistan

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a BURNLEY ex-soldier has been spared jail for a drunken pub brawl – because he served in Afghanistan.

Levi Thomas Sumner was on trial for the assault of Christopher Hargreaves, who was left with several injuries and a smashed cheekbone.

The 21-year-old aggressor had been stationed in Cyprus after his tour of Afghanistan. It was here that it “all started to go wrong” for Sumner, who began drinking to excess and was booted out of the Army. The attack took place in the Queen’s Arms, Rawtenstall, last October.

The victim had previously had a run in with the law, having been dealt with in 2008 for affray, possessing an offensive weapon and harassment in relation to a girl.

Sumner had worked with the female’s father and it was a conversation about the incident with the girl that led to the ex-Army man headbutting Mr Hargreaves. Sumner had felt “provoked” into attack, knocking the victim to the floor.

The next thing Mr Hargreave’s could remember was waking up in a taxi, Burnley Crown Court heard. After attending hospital the next day, the victim’s injuries provoked debate over whether he needed surgery to correct his fractured cheekbone and nose.

Despite this, Mr Hargreave’s decided to let the injuries heal by themselves and reported Sumner to the police, who arrested him.

Solicitor for the defendant Kevin Preston argued his judgement had been clouded by alcohol and, paired with losing friends in the Army, Sumner “may well be bottling up some of his experiences and may be seeking solace in alcohol.”

Sumner, of Cronkshaw, Burnley, admitted assault causing actual bodily harm when on trial at Burnley Crown Court. He was given 52 weeks in jail, with 12 months supervision to address his drink problem. He has also been issued with a £300 fine.

However, in light of the defendant’s service to the country, his guilty plea and the fact the attack was not sustained, Judge Beverly Lunt said she could suspend the prison sentence, adding that when sober Levi Thomas Sumner was not a danger to anyone but could “be a very good and responsible member of society.”