A boasting street attacker has been jailed for a vicious attack in which he left the imprint of his boot on his victim’s face.
Lewis Hutter laid out a soldier and then stamped on his head so hard that the ear on the other side was squashed as it was forced into the grounds.
He walked away from the unconscious victim bragging: "Remember who put you down, my name is Lewis."
Chivenor based REME Lance Corporal Ashley Harding was attacked after Hutter and a friend had called them squaddies in the late night face-off in the centre of South Molton.
Hutter was tracked down by police because the violence was witnessed by people living above shops in South Street who heard him shouting his name as he left the scene.
The victim was messing around in the street with friend Matthew Ransley after a night out and they were picking up papers from outside a newsagent and were posting them through letter boxes.
Mr Harding had put on a pair of red women’s boots he found in a doorway when he was attacked and left with a black eye, and severely bruised face.
Hutter, aged 26, of Moorland Rise, South Molton, denied causing grievous bodily harm and attempting to cause grievous bodily harm with intent.
He was found guilty of both charges by a jury at Exeter Crown Court last month and has now been jailed for four and a half years by Judge Francis Gilbert, QC.
The Judge told him: "You attacked a young Lance Corporal in the REME who was drunk and had been fooling about in the street and no doubt being a nuisance.
"You caused him a serious head injury. You punched him and threw him to the ground where he was defenceless and helpless. According to the witnesses you stood over him and repeatedly punched and stamped on him.
"Having heard the witnesses I sentence you on the basis you stamped on him three or four times. There was a mark on the left side of his face consistent with the pattern of the sole of your shoe.
"On the other side of his head he had an injured ear which was consistent with that side being hit onto the pavement.
"You said 'remember who put you down, remember my name.' I see that as an aggravating factor which demonstrates your attitude to what happened. Fortunately the injuries have healed extremely well."
During a three day trial the court heard how Lance Corporal Harding and his friend Mr Ransley, who were both serving with the REME at Chivenor, were on a night out.
They were confronted by Hutter in South Street in the early hours and after some pushing and shoving Mr Harding was knocked to the ground and kicked or punched repeatedly, knocking him unconscious.
A resident who heard the commotion saw the unconscious man being attacked and heard the assailant say: "Remember who put you down, my name is Lewis."
Hutter told police there had been a scuffle in which a man had bitten him on the ankle but he denied kicking or punching the victim or causing his injuries.
Hutter denied the attack and said he was acting in self defence. He claimed he was assaulted by Mr Harding, who took exception to him calling him 'boy' as he greeted him outside a pub in the town.
Hutter said the soldier was drunk and aggressive and had been larking around. He insisted he had no antipathy towards the military and had not started the violence.
Mr Richard Crabb, defending, said Hutter is now remorseful and accepts what he did was wrong. He said: "He describes his behaviour as utterly reprehensible.
"It is clear from the character references he is normally a hard working, polite young man and this offence was completely out of character."