A RETIRED brigadier branded an ‘alcoholic bully’ by a judge has avoided jail for a sustained violent assault on his wife.
Former Royal Marine Mark Noble subjected his wife of four years to the attack in their Old Portsmouth home – at one point brandishing a kitchen knife threatening he would kill her.
Police officers rushed to the couple’s home in Lombard Street to find the 57-year-old’s wife cowering in the foetal position under a bush in the back garden hiding from Noble.
Controversial comic Jim Davidson was at Portsmouth Crown Court yesterday supporting the veteran as his charity is helping Noble, who pleaded guilty to the attack.
Mr Davidson is a patron of Care after Combat, which works with veterans who have been sent to prison and is calling for more to be done to support them.
‘We’re here to offer support for him,’ Mr Davidson said outside court.
There’s no getting away from the fact you are an alcoholic bullyJudge Ian Pearson
He added Noble had developed ‘problems’ when moving from military to civilian life. The court heard he was an alcoholic struggling with civilian life.
Noble retired in 2011 when he finished as the commanding officer of RNAS Yeovilton, the UK’s busiest military airport. He has been Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund chief executive.
But his reputation is now in tatters after the full extent of his violence against his wife was revealed in court.
Prosecutor Martyn Booth told how Noble’s wife, Sandy, repeatedly tried to flee his attack and suffered scratches and bruises in the sustained assault.
She had just returned from her daughter’s home at around 9.30pm in the summer this year when he started ‘interrogating’ her about where she had been.
Noble had been drinking that night and his wife said he had slurred his words during a phone conversation earlier in the evening.
Mr Booth said: ‘She says the defendant continued ranting at her and at this stage they were in the kitchen. She was pouring herself a glass of white wine and described the defendant as grabbing it, throwing it at her face and hair.
‘Perhaps troublingly she regarded this as normal behaviour for the defendant.’
At this point Noble’s wife ran out to escape ‘saying she was going go outside so people could see,’ Mr Booth said.
He followed her, grabbing her by the neck before pouring abuse at his wife through gritted teeth – all of which the victim said was ‘normal for him’.
He let go of her before she then went back into the house and kitchen.
Mr Booth said: ‘She described the defendant calmly going to the knife block at the other side of the kitchen, and whilst removing a medium-sized knife by the handle in a reverse grip he raised the knife and said “I’m going to kill you”.
Mr Booth said the victim said she was scared as he moved the knife ‘slowly and deliberately’ and that he had previously threatened her with knives before.
She then fled to the back garden, sitting in a chair facing away from the back door, when without any warning Noble came back. He stormed into the garden and knocked her off the chair.
Sandy suffered injuries to the lower part of her right arm and elbow after hitting the concrete.
She picked herself up as Noble hurled more abuse at her and said: ‘I wish I’d never met you, you’re the worst thing that’s ever happened to me.’
Sandy fled the house again, running to the cathedral in Old Portsmouth for sanctuary.
Finding it closed, she hid behind plastic attached to scaffolding on the building as Noble appeared. Both ended up back at the house – the victim fearing she would be locked out.
She went to the garden and was sitting in a chair – which again Noble tipped over sending her flying to the ground before his foot made contact with her head. Noble said this was not a kick.
All the time she was screaming to try to get someone to hear her, Mr Booth told the court. She then called 999 and police arrived shortly afterwards.
He said: ‘She describes the defendant taking the telephone from her saying “you’ve done it now, I’m going to prison”.
‘He became calm, told her to get up. She was afraid and remained in a foetal position.’
Noble, now of Owls Road, Verwood, Dorset, has two previous convictions for battery on his wife and one of criminal damage when he broke her glasses.
Sentencing him to 15 months in prison suspended for two years, Judge Ian Pearson said: ‘There’s no getting away from the fact you are an alcoholic bully.’
He added: ‘I also take account of your exemplary military service over many years and you achieved a very senior rank. With status of that nature there’s a duty to behave with utmost responsibility and probity and you have not.’
Noble was emotionless in the dock as he was spared from going to jail.
Referring to the victim’s refusal to give evidence at the hearing the judge said: ‘She is deluding herself if she feels there won’t be any further incidents.’
Jason Halsey, defending, said: ‘He spent most of his adult life serving the country, he’s been to places and situations that no doubt lesser men would have shrunk away from.’
Outside court Mr Davidson added: ‘We normally deal with veterans that have gone into prison and we make sure when they leave they don’t go back in again.
‘This fits in with the transition from military to civilian life and that’s how we met Mark. I’ve met Mark and his wife before.
‘We don’t want to affect justice at all, we want to see justice.’
Noble pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm relating to the July 30 incident.
He was sentenced to 14 months for the ABH and one month consecutive for breaching a conditional discharge for the previous criminal damage. He must complete a 25-day rehabilitation activity requirement and pay £400 costs.