A former soldier who had been “shadow boxing” with a man in a pub in Coleraine then assaulted the victim who suffered a black eye and needed seven stitches to an eyebrow wound.
Graham Russell Silverson (27), from the Shell Hill area of Coleraine, was involved in an incident at The Bull’s Eye on November 15 last year.
The case was mentioned at Coleraine Magistrates’ Court on Monday where the defendant had previously admitted a charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
The court heard police were called at 1.30am after a male said he was assaulted in a smoking section at the bar after being punched and had to go to hospital.
The defendant initially told police that after “shadow boxing” with the victim he thought he was going to be assaulted and hit the victim a “pre-emptive strike”.
A witness said the injured man had been punched “out of the blue” in an unprovoked attack.
A defence barrister said CCTV showed the men had been “shadow boxing”.
He said both men, who had only met that night, had a history in the sport of boxing and “seemed to be trying to teach each other certain things”.
Silverson, the lawyer said, had taken a lot of alcohol and had “misinterpreted” the situation and had “over-reacted”.
The court heard the defendant had been a soldier from 2009-2018 and had “boxed for the army”.
The defendant had a previously clear record.
Suspending a seven-month jail term, for two years, District Judge Peter King told the defendant he should have controlled his aggression.
He said there had been no suggestion of any acrimony between the men and the assault was “inexplicable” although Silverson had a vast amount of alcohol taken.
Ordering the defendant to pay the injured party £750 in compensation, the judge said it was a “high end assault”.
Judge King told Silverson: “Keep your fists to yourself”.