- WARNING: This article contains upsetting images
Two soldiers who were caught on camera repeatedly stamping on the head of one of the victims as they brutally beat two men have avoided jail.
Shaun Smith and Jason Collins carried out the assaults near their barracks at Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire.
Shocking CCTV footage, described by a police officer as the most violent he had seen, shows one of the victims left unconscious in the road before the pair chase the other man and begin to punch and stamp on him.
Smith stamps 18 times on one of the victims while Collins rains punches on him.
But Judge Jamie Hill QC allowed them to walk free from court and expressed his wish that they would continue their careers in the Army. Smith, 25, a guardsman with the Scots Guards, and Collins, 22, a Welsh Guardsman, claimed they were provoked.
Teesside Crown Court heard the pair had been out drinking shots and beer into the early hours last April and discovered they were unable to return to their barracks.
They then came across the civilian victims, James Wormald and Mark Thompson, and the soldiers allege something was said that provoked the attack.
What followed was described by Judge Hill as "a deeply unpleasant and inexcusable incident".
Regarding the victim who was stamped on, he said: "Whatever caused it to erupt, he was causing no threat at that stage and it's a major surprise he suffered no more than bruising and was able to get up and see if his friend was all right."
After the sentencing, Detective Constable Andy Palmer said: "This is the most violent piece of CCTV footage I have seen in 10 years as a police officer and it is extremely fortunate that the victims in this case were not more seriously injured.
"This case highlights the horrors of alcohol-fuelled violence and is even more shocking given that the defendants were, up until this incident, of good character.
"I hope that people watch this footage and realise just what can happen if they do not stay in control when they are out drinking."
The court was told that despite the shocking nature of the assault, both men were of good character and the Army was keen to keep them.
Pleading for mercy, Richard Herrmann, defending Smith, said: "He's an angel but on that night he was a devil."
The court heard the trust the Army had in the men had not diminished and that Collins had since been stationed to guard Buckingham Palace.
Two of their superior officers attended the hearing and told the court they wanted the two defendants to return to work.
Sentencing both men for committing actual bodily harm, Judge Hill expressed his hope that the Army would continue to employ the pair who he said had a considerable degree of remorse.
"What I have done is entirely exceptional. I cannot say what the Army will do but I express the hope that the Army feels able to keep you," he said.
Smith was given a 12-month sentence suspended for 12 months and was ordered to complete 80 hours of unpaid work and pay £1,000 in compensation.
Collins was given a 12-month community order and also told pay £1,000 in compensation.