A SOLDIER on home leave was kicked unconscious after being taunted as a squaddie in a late night confrontation in South Molton, a jury has been told.
Lance Corporal Ashley Harding suffered a suspected broken skull, black eye, bruised face and has been left with ringing in his ears a year after the alleged attack.
Antipathy towards the armed forces may have lain behind the incident, Exeter Crown Court was told.
Lewis Hutter, 25, of Moorland Rise, South Molton, denies causing grievous bodily harm to Ashley Harding during an incident in the town on August 22 last year. He denies being the person who caused the injuries.
Mr Jonathan Barnes, prosecuting, said the soldier, who serves with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers at Chivenor, was on a night out with fellow soldier Matthew Ransley when they were both attacked.
He said a second man named Michael Holland, also from South Molton, had admitted a public order offence in relation to the same incident and been dealt with by magistrates in North Devon.
Mr Barnes said the two soldiers had been drinking at home and in pubs in South Molton before the confrontation which happened in South Street in the early hours.
He said: “They are both serving soldiers with REME. You will hear about the beginning of the trouble and you may have to consider if there was some feeling against them because they were soldiers.
“Whatever the rights or wrongs our case is that this incident involved two soldiers and two local men.”
He said Hutter had knocked Mr Harding to the ground and then kicked, stamped or punched him repeatedly while he was unconscious on the ground.
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.
Lance Corporal Harding told the jury he could remember almost nothing of the incident. He said he had drunk about seven ciders and been to the Tiverton Inn and Town Arms and was walking home when he was attacked.
He said the next thing he knew was waking up in the North Devon Hospital, where he was kept for two days before discharging himself.
The jury were shown pictures taken on his mobile phone of his own face while in hospital showing bruising and a scuff mark on his cheek.
The trial continues.