A commando gunner from Scarborough who kicked a clubber in a savage attack has been spared jail so he can carry on fighting for his country.
Daniel Sutton was on a night out with comrades after training when they set on the victim and left him with a broken mouth and with seven teeth knocked out.
The victim tried to flee a mob of four or five men by climbing through a hedge but was grabbed and kicked so hard that the imprint of a shoe was left on his face.
Sutton was heard to shout “we done him” as the group emerged from the alley where the seriously injured man had been left with blood pouring from his mouth.
Daniel Sutton, aged 22, from Mount View Avenue, in Scarborough, and Karl Sugg, aged 24, from Nottingham, who serve with the 29 Commando of the Royal Artillery at Plymouth, had been drinking in Okehampton when the attack happened.
Both men were told they had escaped prison by a whisker after senior officers pleaded for them to receive suspended sentences which would enable them to continue their military careers.
Sugg and Sutton admitted causing grievous bodily harm in the attack a year ago.
They were both jailed for 18 months, suspended for two years, ordered to do 200 hours unpaid community work and to pay £3,500 compensation and £700 costs each.
During the hearing at Exeter Crown and County Court, judge Erik Salomonsen told them: “The two of you with others cornered the victim in an alleyway where he was punched to the ground and kicked to the head. Nothing he had done deserved the treatment you meted out to him.
“I have seen letters from your superior officers which speak highly of your abilities and future prospects of you remain in the services.
“It is quite clear if I send you to prison you will lose your careers and the nation will lose your service. If you do not you will face action for bringing your regiment into disrepute.
“There is no doubt at all your conduct is disgraceful and that you have brought a fine regiment into disrepute.
“The aggravating features are that this happened in the early hours of the morning in the town centre of Okehampton and one householder was so frightened she did not open her door even when the police arrived. Drink was undoubtedly involved.”
Mr Nigel Wraith, prosecuting, said the incident started when the victim confronted Sugg outside the Pretoria Vaults club over an incident involving his brother.
The man initially chased Sugg but others got involved and the victim tried to flee down an alley.
Mr Wraith said: “The victim said he was chased by a group of about five males. He was scared and banged on a door to ask for help but got no answer.
“He tried to escape through a hedge but could not get through and was set upon. He cannot recall much of the attack itself but the group emerged and there was some bragging with Sutton saying ‘we done him’.”
He said the victim had three top teeth knocked out, two of which were found at the scene, and lost four more because of a fracture to the bottom of his mouth.
A shoe print matching Sugg’s footwear was found on his forehead and his blood found on the toe of the shoe from a kick to the face.
Mr Tom Bradnock, for Sugg, and Mr Gareth Evans, for Sutton, said they both had promising careers with their regiment and play vital roles in their units, which are shortly to go on standby for active service.
Both have passed the All Arms Commando course, enabling them to fight alongside the Royal Marines and their units are experience manning shortages.
Mr Evans said: “If they go to prison they will be dishonourably discharged, with all that means. It would be a loss not just to them but to us as a community because we really need young men like this to represent the country in times of trouble.”