A FORMER sailor punched his friend after being mocked for leaving the navy.
Todd Spence, 27, punched family friend Keiron Palmer, leaving him with a broken jaw and needing surgery to fit a titanium plate.
Representing himself at Portsmouth Crown Court, Spence said the punch was a ‘one-off’ and pleaded for a suspended sentence.
Tree surgeon Spence said: ‘He was just being annoying.
‘Everything I was trying to say he was coming back with tiny remarks that were aggravating. He was trying to say I’d failed by leaving the navy and I wasn’t worthy of the branch.’
Victoria Hill, prosecuting, said between 2am and 3am Mr Palmer, Spence and another man were outside the defendant’s home in St George’s Walk, Gosport, on August 8 last year.
She said Spence was getting worked up, so Mr Palmer put his arm around him.
‘As he did the defendant said “back off or I’m going to hit you”.
‘The male said “you better listen to him, just walk away”.
‘Mr Palmer tried to carry on calming the defendant down. As he did the defendant hit him on the left side of the jaw, causing him to fall to the ground. The complainant stood up and the defendant hit him again.’
She added Mr Palmer walked off to his home and Spence chased after him.
In court, Spence said he only hit his friend once and had walked him home.
The court heard how Mr Palmer’s father had previously helped Spence at a ‘difficult time’ of his life and that the two families had been pushed apart since the incident.
Spence said: ‘No-one feels more terrible than I do.’
Talking of the time of the incident, he said: ‘I was going through a very, very difficult struggle, I’d just left the navy, I was finding it difficult to fit in civilian life. I joined the navy at 16, I didn’t fully understand the whole civilian side.’
He added: ‘My long-term girlfriend admitted that she’d been seeing someone else, carrying someone’s child.’
Judge Ian Pearson said Spence handed himself in and pleaded guilty to GBH.
The judge handed him a 12-month prison term suspended for two years with a tagged four-month curfew between 8pm and 5.30am.
Spence must also pay £1,000 compensation and complete 200 hours of unpaid work.