Distinguished service is no excuse for beating wife

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Mark Noble is a lucky man. Many people will think that today he should have been waking up in a prison cell at the beginning of a lengthy stretch inside.

But the former brigadier in the Royal Marines is free to continue his retirement in Dorset.

Yes, his reputation is shredded, but that will come as little comfort to his wife.

As we report today, she has repeatedly been terrified at the hands of a man described in court as ‘an alcoholic bully’.

Noble walked free from Portsmouth Crown Court with a 15-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, hanging over him. The fact that he is a distinguished former Royal Marine should cut no ice.

There are thousands of ex-servicemen living in the Portsmouth area who would never dream of beating and humiliating their wives.

They probably all struggled with the life-changing moment when they quit the services for civilian life, but few would have gone on to treat their spouses as Noble did.

But there are undoubtedly some who, having experienced combat, will struggle to make the transition, hit the bottle and then their wives.

They could be veterans of Northern Ireland, the Falklands, Iraq or Afghanistan. As Noble’s defence lawyer said of his client: ‘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.’

It’s no excuse, but there is an issue here which prompted the appearance in court of comedian Jim Davidson, patron of Care After Combat which works with veterans who have been jailed.

Yes, there are undoubtedly psychological issues affecting Noble. But what the impact on his wife’s mental health has been, we shudder to guess.