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South Molton man found guilty of late night attack on soldier

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: August 27, 2013

Exeter Crown Court

A BOASTFUL street thug has been warned he faces jail after being found guilty of an attack which left a soldier with a suspected fractured skull.

Lewis Hutter taunted victim Lance Corporal Ashley Harding and a comrade as squaddies before launching an attack in which he kicked him repeatedly.

He was tracked down by police because a shocked eye-witness who saw the late night confrontation from an upstairs window heard him bragging: ”Remember who put you down, my name is Lewis”.

Hutter took on the two soldiers after encountering them as they walked home from a night out while on home leave in South Molton.

They were larking about and Mr Harding had put on a pair of red women’s boots he found in a doorway while he and his friend Matthew Ransley posted unread newspapers through letter boxes in South Street.

Lance Corporal 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, which may have been caused by antipathy towards the armed forces.

Lewis Hutter, 25, 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 and remanded in custody to await sentence by Judge Francis Gilbert, QC.

The judge ordered a probation pre-sentence report and told him: “There is bound to be a custodial sentence for what you did.”

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.

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