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Attacker walks free after breaking innocent man's jaw outside Catterick nightclub
A COWARDLY attacker who broke an innocent men's jaw in a fracas outside a nightclub had walked free from court.
Darren Smith was a peacemaker in the trouble when Andrew Close charged at him and felled him with a single blow.
Close wrongly believed his victim had been a person harassing him in the club earlier, Teesside Crown Court heard.
The 24-year-old ran at him with such force, his punch followed through and knocked over a woman standing nearby.
Close, of Colburn Drive, Catterick Garrison, admitted inflicting grievous bodily harm and got a suspended jail sentence.
His barrister, Adrian Dent, told the court: "I have to accept, as does he, that this is inexcusable violence in a public place.
"Whatever happened on that night was out of character, and he has expressed sincere remorse for what he did."
The court heard how trouble flared outside Club Louis in the garrison town some time after 3am on April 1 this year.
Mr Smith tried to pull his friend away from the bother when he was rushed at and punched, said prosecutor Kieran Rainey.
"This was, in short, a cowardly attack on someone acting as a peacemaker and offering no threat whatsoever," he said.
"He describes himself as being in agony and he was taken to hospital where a double fracture of the jaw was diagnosed."
The victim had to have two plates with screws inserted into his face to repair the damage, and was off work for a fortnight.
Close, a self-employed plasterer's mate, was ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid community work and pay £500 compensation.
Judge George Moorhouse also imposed a six-month prison sentence, which was suspended for a year.
After watching video footage of the incident, he told Close: "Inside the club, you were harassed by a man who punched you twice.
"Outside, you suddenly ran towards someone to seek your revenge. You missed him, and hit somebody else."
Mr Dent said: "He is very sorry for his actions. He accepts he had no excuse."