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Army veteran avoids prison

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AN Afghanistan and Iraq veteran who used a military restraint technique to pin down a woman has narrowly avoided jail.

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John Doran (42) appeared in the Royal Court on Friday after pleading guilty to grave and criminal assault. He was also sentenced for perverting the course of justice after sending Facebook messages aimed at encouraging his victim to retract her police statement.

Crown Advocate Emma Hollywood, prosecuting, told the court that on the evening of 28 December, Doran was at a house with a woman when an argument broke out.

During the dispute, the defendant gestured for the woman to step back and as she did she hit her head on a shelf.

The court heard that Doran then grabbed the shelf and pushed it against the wall before pushing his victim away and putting his hands on her neck.

After this the defendant ended up on the floor and he put his knee on her elbow – a technique he had learned as a soldier – before police were called. The victim sustained a number of bruises on her neck and one of her legs.

Doran was later arrested and appeared in the Magistrate’s Court on 16 January – entering a not guilty plea to grave and criminal assault. He was released on bail on the condition that he must not have any contact – direct or indirect – with his victim.

However, in March Doran sent a message to a family member of his victim implying that he would make a statement which would lead to the victim being arrested and that the ‘...only way to stop all of this [is] if she retracts her statement’.

The defendant was later arrested and during interview said he thought he could contact the family member as they were ‘outside the bubble’ of who he was not allowed to contact. After his case was committed to the Royal Court, he pleaded guilty to grave and criminal assault and perverting the course of justice.

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Advocate Hollywood recommended that the court sentence Doran to 24 months in custody and impose a restraining order, preventing him from contacting his victim. However, Advocate Mark Boothman, defending, said that a community service order would be suitable and that his client was extremely remorseful.

‘He used a military restraint technique where he kneeled on her elbow and he has now remarked that this was excessive, he is sorry and that he should have walked away and that he did not do so.’

Advocate Boothman added that Doran had completed several tours of Afghanistan and Iraq – witnessing explosions, colleagues being injured and having to use his bayonet – and that his had a significant and lasting impact on his mental health.

He added that, following evaluation by a psychologist, Doran’s post-traumatic stress syndrome score was high, that he was suffering from depressive personality disorder and that he had struggled mentally since leaving the Army.

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During sentencing, Deputy Bailiff Robert MacRae said Doran’s victim ‘felt terrified’, as she knew he was much stronger than her. He described the message to her family member as a ‘serious aggravating feature’.

However, he added that the court had noted that Doran had no criminal convictions, that he had expressed genuine remorse and his PTSD symptoms were due in part to his active service in the Army.

The court sentenced Doran to 240 hours’ community service and 18 months’ probation and ordered him to pay £1,000 in compensation to his victim.

The defendant was also requested to engage with the probation service to seek treatment for his PTSD.

Jurats Rozanne Thomas and Steven Austin Vautier were also sitting.

Ed Taylor

By Ed Taylor
Journalist

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