A SOLDIER walked free from court yesterday so that he can fly out to Iraq next month.

Private Graham Moody, 21, of the First Queen's Lancashire Regiment, who admitted causing grievous bodily harm to a civilian outside Harry's bar, in Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire, had an exemplary record after four years in the Army.

An officer wrote to the judge saying that Pte Moody was "exactly the type of soldier I would want by my side in the forthcoming tour of Basra and Northern Iraq".

Pte Moody, decorated for service in Northern Ireland, carried out the attack from behind on a man escaping from a series of three assaults by drunken soldiers, said Shaun Dodds, prosecuting.

Victim Lee Colling was rescued from the first two by door staff, but as he stood at the open boot of his car, Pte Moody went up behind him, then punched him hard, breaking his nose.

He fell backwards on to the tarmac, causing a suspected fractured skull, which x-rays proved negative, Teesside Crown Court heard.

"He was absolutely appalled by his own behaviour," said Stuart Allison, defending.

Pte Moody, of Alma Barracks, Catterick Garrison, who also pleaded guilty to affray in the February 5 attack, was ordered to pay £2,500 compensation to Mr Colling and £235 prosecution costs.