A SOLDIER stamped one man unconscious before launching a karate-style kick on another in a brutal booze-fuelled street attack.
Squaddie Daniel Olds, 21, left a dad out cold after stamping on his head three times as he lay stricken in Hartlepool town centre.
He then turned on his victim’s son with a ferocious kick during a street brawl which left the man needing 26 stitches.
A judge said the shocking attack, also involving Paul Graddon and Andrew Porritt, deserved a suspended prison sentence at least.
But Recorder Mark McKone instead gave Olds a community order after he was told his career in the Army would be over if he got anything more serious.
Teesside Crown Court heard how Olds, Graddon and Porritt had been out drinking since mid-afternoon after attending a funeral.
At around 2.30am on October 6, the three of them exchanged words with the two victims in Victoria Road.
For some unexplained reason violence broke out when Graddon started attacking Steven Murphy while Porritt, 19, scuffled with Mr Murphy senior.
When Mr Murphy senior and Graddon went to ground Olds kicked and stamped on his head three times.
Olds, from Hartlepool, then delivered a karate-style kick to the head of Steven Murphy as he grappled with Graddon on the ground, Teesside Crown Court heard.
Graddon continued throwing punches at Steven Murphy as he walked up the street, and Graddon aimed a kick to his head.
He needed 26 stitches for cuts to his face, and his father suffered bruising and swelling to his head.
Olds, who barracks in Larkhill, Salisbury, admitted two counts of actual bodily harm.
Martin Scarborough, mitigating, described his actions as “a moment of madness” and “completely inexcusable” for which he was very sorry.
He said Olds, an armourer, was due to be deployed to Afghanistan later this year and was the only person in his unit available for that role.
He was given a 12-month community order with supervision, 99 hours unpaid work and a six-month curfew.
Graddon, 19, of Kildale Grove, Hartlepool, admitted actual bodily harm and was given 16 months jail suspended for two years, 200 hours unpaid work and a three month curfew.
Porritt, of The Grove, Greatham, admitted affray and received eight months prison suspended for two years and a six month curfew.
Recorder McKone said: “This was a disgraceful incident. The three of you used serious violence in the street at night when the three of you were in drink.
“Although it has been a difficult, close run decision, and it’s a decision I know some people will seek to criticise me for, I have decided not to sentence any of you to custody immediately today.”
He told Olds, who said the Army was his life: “In my view it’s more likely you will be prevented from any further offending if you remain in the Army.”