Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Army Hero Avoids Jail for Affray

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Army Hero Avoids Jail for Affray

Article excerpt

Byline: GARETH LIGHTFOOT gareth.lightfoot@trinitymirror.com @GazetteCourt

A DECORATED soldier who was drawn into "mayhem" at a social club has not been punished by the courts as a judge commended his excellent references.

Former Guardsman James Beattie MBE came to court with a sheaf of references from high-ranking officers from his 33-year military career.

"I'd go so far as to say I've never seen in my legal career references of this quality," Judge Sean Morris told Teesside Crown Court on Tuesdsay.

He said to Beattie: "You are not just a man of hitherto good character. You are a man of impeccable character hitherto.

"Never have I seen in court a man who has served his country like this."

The ex-soldier ended up in the dock after trouble erupted at the Elm Tree Social Club on Bishopton Lane, Elm Tree, Stockton on October 29 last year.

He initially tried to stop a fracas which involved his brother Ronnie and nephew Jack, the court heard.

He got involved at the end of the incident and punched another man who went to the floor and was hit in the face, said prosecutor Rachel Masters.

Beattie, 53, of Oxbridge Avenue, Stockton, admitted affray - using or threatening unlawful violence.

His barrister Mark Styles said Beattie was punched hard and lost control.

He said: "He's certainly not the one who starts it. He gets drawn into this mayhem. He hasn't spoken to his brother since, or his nephew. That's the sort of impact it's had on the family.

"He's served just about everywhere where there's trouble around the world."

He told how Beattie joined the Army at 17 and worked his way through the ranks to Regimental Sergeant Major at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. …

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