A SOUTH Molton man has denied a late night attack on an off-duty soldier and told a jury he was acting in self defence.
Lewis Hutter says he was attacked by REME soldier Ashley Harding who took exception to him calling him ‘boy’ as he greeted him outside a pub in the town.
Hutter told Exeter Crown Court the Lance Corporal Harding was drunk and aggressive and denied punching and kicking him unconscious.
He says Mr Harding and fellow soldier Matthew Ransley had been larking around and the alleged victim had picked up a pair of red women’s boots from a skip or doorway and was wearing them.
He insisted he had no antipathy towards the military and had not started the violence.
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.
The jury have been told Mr Harding, a Lance Corporal with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers at Chivenor, was on a night out with fellow soldier Matthew Ransley when they were both attacked.
The prosecution say Hutter repeatedly punched or kicked the soldier, who suffered a suspected fractured skull, black eyes, and bruising.
The victim said he remembered almost nothing other than waking up in the North Devon Hospital in Barnstaple.
His friend Matthew Ransley said he had drunk 11 or 12 pints of cider and was walking home from the Town Arms when there was a confrontation.
He said Mr Harding had put on a pair of red boots and they had been posting newspapers they found outside a shop through letter boxes as a lark.
He claimed the violence was started by Hutter after he asked them:”Are you two squaddies?”
Hutter denied making any comments about squaddies and said he saw the lads larking around and asked them ‘What are you doing. Boys?’.
He said this made Mr Harding very angry and he broke free of his friend’s attempts to restrain him and attacked him.
He said he pushed him away and defended himself but insisted he had not punched or kicked him while on the ground.