Army veteran avoids jail after pool cue attack on Special Constable in pub brawl

A British Army veteran has avoided jail for attacking a Special Constable with a pool cue in a bar brawl because it is feared he could go blind whilst behind bars.

Brian Harmon, 57, repeatedly attacked off-duty officer Luke Martin during a 'bar room brawl' at The Crown pub in Chasetown, Staffordshire in January last year.

Martin, who's in his thirties, suffered three fractures to his eye socket, has ongoing issues and has been forced to give up his role with the Lichfield neighbourhood police team, Birmingham Crown Court heard.

Judge Martin Hurst said a witness at the brawl said the blows to the off-duty officer's face sounded like 'a branch being snapped'.

Judge Hurst said "You used the thick end of the pool cue inflicting serious injuries. A witness said it sounded like a branch being snapped. What they heard being snapped was his face.

"You caused three fractures to his eye socket. He has ongoing serious conditions, he has lost his beloved career as a special constable and is currently out of work."

Harmon, who served in the Falklands with the Parachute Regiment, denied inflicting grievous bodily harm but was convicted following a trial.

The veteran, from Burntwood, near Lichfield, was sentenced to two years in prison yesterday, Monday, July 26, but the punishment was suspended for the same period due to fears he would not be able to undergo an eyesight-saving operation whilst in custody.

He must, however, pay Mr Martin £2,000 compensation.

Following a trial at Stafford Crown Court, which concluded in January, Harmon was found guilty of inflicting grievous bodily harm but cleared of a more serious charge of doing so with intent.

An additional offence of possession of an offensive weapon was ordered to lie on the file.

Sentencing had been delayed until to now to allow for surgery on his eyes but it has not been carried out during the six-month period.

Lee Marklew, defending, said: "He is someone who has serious medical conditions which require intensive and long-term treatment. If he does not receive the operation then he will almost certainly lose his sight."

The court heard Harmon joined the British Army aged 17 and served at the Falkland Islands near Argentina where he was injured, resulting in him being hospitalised for four weeks and causing long-term effects to his lungs and a loss of stamina.

Mr Marklew stated he was medically discharged but had 'difficulty adjusting to civilian life. He said Harmon had struggled to control his temper since he was a young man, which has been exacerbated by his consumption of alcohol as a way of 'self medication'.

He was also diagnosed with Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) aged 37 while the problems with his eyesight arose in 2015.

The judge concluded that the attack 'really deserves a prison sentence' but stated it was 'appropriate to suspend it' given the defendant's medical circumstances.

Harmon must complete 28 days of rehabilitation activity, a thinking skills programme and adhere to a three-month curfew. He must also pay £2,000 in court costs on top of the same amount awarded in compensation.

The Army veteran said 'thank you, much appreciated' to the judge as he left the court dock.

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