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Community order for serviceman who attacked Bury St Edmunds hotel manager

PUBLISHED: 15:49 16 July 2018 | UPDATED: 15:49 16 July 2018

Ipswich Crown Court. Picture: ARCHANT

Ipswich Crown Court. Picture: ARCHANT

A serviceman who attacked a Suffolk hotel manager and one of his colleagues in a late night confrontation in Bury St Edmunds has been given a community order after a judge heard thst a prison sentence would end his career in the RAF.

Jack Wilkes struck two blows to Nick Ballantyne, who was a manager at the Angel Hotel in Bury St Edmunds and Conor Jordan, who also worked at the hotel, during the incident in March last year, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

As a result of the blows Mr Ballantyne suffered a fractured eye orbit and a fractured sinus while Mr Jordan had a broken tooth and a fractured cheekbone, said Juliet Donovan, prosecuting.

Wilkes, 25 of RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, admitted two offences of inflicting grievous bodily harm on March 31 last year.

Sentencing him to a 12 month community order during which he will have to do 260 hours unpaid work in the community, Judge Rupert Overbury told Wilkes: “ I’m just able to find exceptional circumstances which allow me to pass a sentence which should allow you to carry on your service in the RAF.”

He said that a friend of the two injured men had described the two groups of men involved in the incident as being aggressive towards each other.

Judge Overbury said he was satisfied there was no immediate threat of violence to Wilkes and he should have simply walked away.

“I’m absolutely convinced that but for drink you would have done so. You were in drink and acted aggressively. It simply comes down to you wanting to have the last word. The last word in this aggressive situation was one punch to each of these people you felt deserved it,” said the judge.

“Week in and week out I have to deal with young men who simply don’t understand that drunken violence isn’t an acceptable part of our community or society,” said the judge.

In addition to the community order and unpaid work Wilkes was also ordered to pay £415 costs and £3,500 compensation to Mr Ballantyne and £1,000 to Mr Jordan.

Emma Nash, for Wilkes, said her client had no previous convictions and was extremely remorseful.

She said he was highly regarded by the RAF and faced losing his career if he received a prison sentence.

She said there had been provocation from both sides and Wilkes knew he should have walked away.

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