Cyprus-bound thug spared prison term

Joshua Cooper

Joshua Cooper

A serving Lancashire soldier who broke a man’s jaw in an unprovoked attack has been spared jail so he can serve his country overseas.

Trained boxer Joshua Cooper, 23, floored Tobias Lee with several blows to his face when he saw him on a night out on December 18 last year.

I am prepared to accept that what took place was a moment of madness

Mr Lee suffered a bi-lateral fracture to his jaw and had to undergo surgery under general anaesthetic as a result of the attack.

Recorder Mark Ainsworth, sentencing, said: “That kind of attack from anyone would be shameful but when I look at your background and your professional circumstances then the shame is greater still.”

Cooper, who serves with the Duke of Lancaster regiment, based at Weeton Barracks, pleaded guilty to causing GBH in what the court heard was a “moment of madness and a lapse in discipline.”

The soldier was on leave in his home town of Barrow when he attacked Mr Lee, after recently breaking up with his girlfriend.

Recorder Ainsworth said: “It is quite plain you are in many ways an exemplary soldier.

“It is quite clear you have a great deal to give to the service you serve and I am prepared to accept that what took place in Barrow was a moment of madness on your part.”

Cooper, of Hawke Street, Barrow-in-Furness, is due to fly out to Cyprus for a tour of duty starting in September.

Recorder Ainsworth handed him a 12 month community order with 100 hours of unpaid work and 40 hours rehabilitation.

He said: “I am very anxious that the message does not go out from this court that soldiers should be treated in any way differently to other members of society.

“It is my intention to put in place an order that punishes you in the months to come but allows you to serve with the Duke of Lancaster Regiment.

“You have 12 months to complete the order but in truth you will be travelling overseas in four months and so it will be that almost all your spare time between now and your deployment at the end of the summer will be taken up completing this order and if it is not completed you will come back before me.

“You caused a very serious injury to that young man who as far as I can see was completely without fault.”

He ordered Cooper to pay £1,000 compensation to his victim but said that sum was not intended to represent a figure which would be settled at a civil compensation case – which was likely to be a lot more.