A helicopter pilot had his jaw broken in two places in an unprovoked attack inside a York bar.
The 35-year-old victim, a high-ranking military man, was attacked by 19-year-old John Bamber at Vudu Lounge in Swinegate, York Crown Court heard.
Prosecutor Rob Galley said the victim, a large, stocky man, was drying his hands in the toilet area when Bamber suddenly appeared and started making scurrilous, and patently untrue, accusations at him regarding a female relative.
Bamber punched the pilot, whom he didn’t know, in the side of the face.
“(The victim) had never met (Bamber) before (and) didn’t know what he was talking about,” said Mr Galley.
“He blocked a further punch, grabbed (Bamber’s) arm and placed the defendant in a choke hold on the floor.”
But then a female friend of Bamber’s “barged in” and grabbed hold of the victim, whereupon Bamber punched him in the jaw.
Bouncers arrived and pulled Bamber and the woman off the victim, who was in a great deal of pain and was bleeding around the eye. Police were called and Bamber was arrested.
He appeared for sentence on Wednesday after pleading guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm. The attack occurred in the early hours of August 25, 2020.
Had to have surgery
Mr Galley said the victim, a married father, had served as a helicopter pilot for 18 years and was of a “significant rank”.
His wife, who was in the bar with him, was utterly “distressed” and had to go back to their hotel on her own.
“She was crying, not knowing what had happened to her husband,” added Mr Galley.
He had to undergo surgery for the double jaw fracture and had to have plates inserted. He also had a cut to his eyebrow.
He couldn’t fly for about two months due to his injuries and needed extra training before he was allowed back in the cockpit.
Bamber, of Ancress Walk, York, told police he was drunk and had little recollection of the “verbal altercation” with the victim.
Charlotte Noddings, for Bamber, said he had never been in trouble before and at the time of the attack on the helicopter pilot he was going through a bereavement following the death of his brother.
She said Bamber was “extremely sorry” and that the attack was “out of character”. Judge Deborah Sherwin said: “(The victim) was an innocent person in all of this (and) his injury is going to be permanent.”
She said such a serious offence would normally result in an immediate prison sentence, but she added that Bamber had “not had the easiest of backgrounds” and had simply had too much to drink on the night in question.
Bamber was given an 18-month community order with 100 hours’ unpaid work and a 25-day rehabilitation programme. He was ordered to pay the victim £1,000 compensation.