TWO men arranged to meet behind a pub for an earlymorning fight after becoming involved in an argument between their partners on Facebook.

Former boxer Craig Lowe and soldier Craig Daniels waded into the row the two women – close friends – were having on the social networking website.

The men agreed to meet hours later at The Smithy, in Stainton, Middlesbrough, to resolve their differences, Teesside Crown Court was told.

Mr Daniels came off worse in the fight and suffered a broken cheekbone, which was repaired by surgeons who inserted metal plates into his face.

Lowe was arrested for assault.

His lawyer, Andrew Turton, said he was simply trying to resolve the differences “in time-honoured tradition”.

But Judge Peter Armstrong told the the plumber: “Duelling has been illegal for centuries now... there is no such thing as a legal private fight.”

The court heard how Lowe’s girlfriend, Michelle Craig, and Mr Daniels’ wife, Louise, had the argument on Facebook in the early hours of February 13.

After his arrest, Lowe, of Sunnyside, Coulby Newham, Middlesbrough, told police he had boxed for four years and had also taken jujitsu lessons.

Prosecutor Nathan Moxon said 25-year-old Lowe repeatedly punched Mr Daniels in the face after putting him in a headlock during the 8am tussle.

Mr Turton told the court: “This is a dispute that has been settled in a timehonoured tradition.

“That doesn’t make it right, but that’s what happened.

“A man – albeit with his skills – met a serving soldier, and they decided to resolve their differences in a pub car park first thing in the morning.”

Judge Armstrong interjected, and said: “The winner is prosecuted, and the loser is the complainant... you have to be punished for breaking the law.”

Lowe admitted inflicting grievous bodily harm and was given a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, with unpaid community work.

Judge Armstrong ordered him to pay £1,500 compensation and £500 costs, and told him: “Make sure you take advantage of the chance you are being given.”

He added: “There is no such thing as a private fight or fair fight which doesn’t involve some breach of the law.”