Lance corporal spared prison for violent Travelodge attack on other guest

Credit: Court reporter

An army lance corporal has been spared prison for a violent off-duty attack on a fellow guest in a Cumbrian Travelodge corridor.

Barry Graham Irving, 33, was heard arguing with his partner in reception of the hotel at Cockermouth when they returned late on August 22. A receptionist then went to investigate after other guests complained of noise and shouting from their room. Irving’s partner initially emerged, but he then barged out aggressively having been drinking.

After a woman discussed calling police, Irving turned on her partner, Kevin Pitts, saying: “If you want to have a go, go on then.” When Mr Pitts replied “not really”, Irving “flew down the corridor into a blind rage and attacked him”, Carlisle Crown Court heard.

“The defendant took him to the floor and punched him over and over, as Mr Pitts puts it,” said prosecutor Brendan Burke. “He thought maybe six or seven times.”

Only the efforts of bystanders stopped the attack, after which Irving invited further violence “out in the car park” when he and the victim briefly met again. Mr Pitts suffered bruising and swelling to his right eye, pain to his temple and a grazed thumb, and was taken to hospital.

Irving admitted an actual bodily harm assault - an offence which, said his barrister, Matthew Purves, was “entirely spontaneous”.

The court heard Irving had committed violent offences while his early years were in “disarray” but had put his life on track and received “structure and support” when joining the Army around a decade ago, latterly being promoted to lance corporal.

“I accept that what you did was an occasion when you lost your senses and involved yourself in impulsive violence,” said the judge, Recorder Eric Lamb, who noted Irving had been sentenced for another violent assault last year.

But, after taking into account mitigation, references from high-ranking military personnel and hearing of the defendant’s genuine remorse, the judge suspended a six-month jail term for two years after concluding there was a realistic prospect of rehabilitation. Irving, of Lisle Grove, Wallsend, must also complete a rehabilitation requirement.

“I am sure that all in court hope you are able to retain your career. That is a matter for the Armed Forces, not this court,” added the judge, who called Irving’s appearance in court a “tragedy”.