A Sheffield soldier who ‘struggled to cope’ after tours of Afghanistan and Iraq has been jailed for a violent drunken attack on a pub bouncer.
Lewis Clews, aged 25, faces being drummed out of the Army he joined at 19 – after glassing a doorman who stepped in as the corporal hurled the contents of his pint over a woman at a bar.
Clews had turned to drink after two tours of the Middle East, a court heard.
The jury was told Army life had ‘caused a deterioration’ in his mental health.
Only last month he was given a five-year football banning order after joining 16 other hooligans brawling in Sheffield city centre last August.
“The upshot is his work through the Army has caused his mental deterioration, which has impacted upon his drinking, which has impacted on his behaviour,” said Sophie Chaplin, defending.
Since the assault on the bouncer in the pub he had sought help from a psychotherapist, she said, and booked an appointment with the Army’s department of community mental health.
She told the court that, were Clews to receive a prison term, he would be dismissed from the Army, having enlisted when he was 19.
Judge Euan Ambrose agreed: “There is no doubt the effects of your military service have had an effect upon you.
“There is no satisfaction to be had in a case where a serving soldier loses his career. It is in its way a tragedy.
“But the law must be applied fairly to all.”
Clews, of Rainbow Way, Hackenthorpe, admitted assault and actual bodily harm.
Jailing him for eight months, Judge Ambrose said: “Your military service does not excuse your behaviour.”
Clews was already on bail for the hooliganism when he sloshed his pint over a woman he’d tried to chat up.
Paul Grumbar, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court Clews was in a pub in the Wiltshire garrison town of Warminster last November 25 when he approached Tiana Morton.
“He asked Miss Morton to return to his barracks with him. She took umbrage and, when he persisted, she pushed him away,” he said.
The soldier flung the contents of his glass over her face and doorman Cain Griffin reached out between the two. But, as he did so, Clews turned on him, throwing the glass which smashed as it struck the doorman’s forehead.
The impact caused a deep one-and-a-half inch wound.
When later arrested and questioned, Clews said he could recall nothing.
Robin Bacon, chief of staff at The Soldiers’ Charity, said: “In some cases, a soldier’s service can affect their mental health, though it’s important to recognise most soldiers suffer no ill-effects after operational tours. We fund mental health specialists like Combat Stress, who tackle cases like this – but the law must indeed be applied fairly to all.”