Ex-Para jailed for Clitheroe attacks

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An ex-soldier who attacked two people at a 21st birthday party in Clitheroe, leaving one scarred for life, has been jailed for two-and-a-half years.

Steven Mercer headbutted one man and then smashed a drinking glass in the face of his first victim’s uncle, causing lacerations.

The 25-year-old defendant, of Chapel Street, Oswaldtwistle, had pleaded guilty to one offence of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and another of unlawful wounding over the events at Clitheroe Social Club in April last year.

The birthday party had been a private function, but non-guests went on to be allowed in.

Miss Mercedeh Jabbari, prosecuting at Preston Crown Court, told the court that as one of the party guests, Alex Holt, reached for his drink, he accidently brushed past the defendant and words were exchanged. The party had been arranged for Mr Holt’s sister.

Mr Holt turned to face Mercer and was immediately headbutted to the forehead, onto the bridge of his nose. He was in a lot of pain and bleeding.

As he walked towards the toilets, he passed his uncle, Brian Wakeling, who asked him about what had happened. The defendant was pointed out.

Mr Wakeling made his way over to Mercer and grabbed the defendant in a headlock.

Miss Jabbari added: “There was a scuffle and in the course of that the defendant swung his hand, containing a glass, and smashed it in his face.”

Mr Wakeling ended up with multiple scars to his face.

Mr Mark Ford (defending) said his client had written letters of apology for forwarding to the victims, through his solicitor.

The barrister said: “The defendant struck Mr Wakeling to the head with a glass while in a headlock and without appreciating he held a glass in his hand when he did so.

“The defendant was acting with excessive self-defence at the time. The glass was not directly used as a weapon.

In mitigation for his client, Mr Ford added: “Drink is not a problem for this man, but controlling his anger is.”

He said Mercer had served his country in Afghanistan and had spent three-and-a-half years in the Parachute Regiment. He would not be the first person finding the transition from army life to civilian life difficult.

“He bitterly regrets his actions”, added Mr Ford.

In passing sentence, the judge, Mr Justice Butterfield, told Mercer that Mr Wakeling neeeded 25 to 30 external stitches to his face, had spent three days in hospital and would bear the scars of what the defendant did for the rest of his life.