COURT: Former soldier broke man's eye socket with single punch in Harrogate pub attack

Sutcliffe was sentenced at York Crown Court
Sutcliffe was sentenced at York Crown Court

A drunken thug broke a man’s eye socket with a single punch after trying to chat up his girlfriend in a Harrogate pub.

Michael Peter Sutcliffe, 30, turned violent when the victim asked him to leave his partner alone.

Sutcliffe’s mighty blow knocked the victim straight to the floor, York Crown Court heard.

He momentarily blacked out and woke up to find his friends helping him to his feet and mopping blood from his face.

Prosecutor Jeremy Barton said the victim had to undergo surgery to have a plate fitted between his jaw and outer eye socket, which had been fractured. The blow had also caused a deformity of the nose and broke two of his teeth.

“It caused a severe amount of (facial) bruising, swelling and pain,” said Mr Barton. “He was treated at Harrogate District Hospital and had to take time off work.”

Sutcliffe, who ran off after the attack, was later arrested and charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm. He admitted the offence and appeared for sentence at York Crown Court on Friday.

Mr Barton said the victim, who was named in court, was ordering drinks at the bar with two friends when Sutcliffe, a father-of-two and former soldier, sidled up to his partner and kept pestering her despite her politely rejecting his advances.

When the victim and his friend returned to their table, Sutcliffe refused to budge. The victim politely asked him to leave, but the enraged former squaddie stood up and hit him with a vicious punch.

In a statement read out in court, the victim said the attack had left him and his girlfriend “extremely upset” and forced them to cancel a holiday. He was still receiving medical treatment for the fractured eye socket five months on from the attack, which happened on September 14 last year.

Defence barrister Taryn Turner said Sutcliffe, of Dragon Parade, Harrogate, had spent four years in the army but was discharged in his early 20s after suffering combat stress.

“Since that time he’s found it extremely difficult to settle into civilian life,” she added. “He’s hard a drink problem; he’s had drug problems.”

Judge Rodney Jameson QC gave Sutcliffe a 12-month prison sentence, but suspended this for a year-and-a-half because he had just one previous conviction for violence and had suffered emotional turmoil through his army experiences.

The judge also ordered Sutcliffe to engage in a 20-day rehabilitation and alcohol-treatment programme, and carry out 120 hours’ unpaid work. Sutcliffe was made to pay £2,000 compensation to the victim.