A soldier was forced to fly home from combat duties in the Middle East to face court after knocking out a comrade in a street fracas.
Lance Corporal Craig Fagan broke Good Samaritan Jonathan Sharp’s jaw after he broke up a fight outside a Spar shop.
The two soldiers had earlier been in separate groups having a drink at the Abbey Inn in Kinloss.
When the pub closed around 1.30am Mr Sharp left the bar first and immediately intervened to break up a fight outside.
He was then approached by Fagan and after the pair exchanged words Mr Sharp was knocked down by a single punch to the head.
He was unconscious on the ground but was helped to his feet, while his attacker left the scene in a car with friends.
Mr Sharp was taken by ambulance to Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin and although he was released he returned the following day and X-rays showed he had a fractured jaw.
Twenty-five-year-old Fagan, who serves with 39 Engineer Regiment based at Kinloss Barracks, admitted the assault in the early hours of February 20 when he appeared at Elgin Sheriff Court yesterday.
Fiscal Kevin Corrins said: “Mr Sharp has seen a disturbance between two people who hadn’t been in the pub. He’s gone over to break that up.
“Thereafter Mr Sharp walks away from that incident and has calmed down. He then seems to be approached by the accused.
“There is a brief exchange of words between the two of them. Thereafter the accused threw a punch which struck Mr Sharp on the right side of his face.”
The sound of Mr Sharp’s head hitting the pavement alerted others and they ran over to help.
Sheriff Olga Pasportnikov asked defence agent Matthew O’Neill whether any provocation prompted the attack.
The solicitor declined to offer any mitigation for the offence until his client appears again for sentence next month.
He said: “Arrangements were made to get him back to the area from the Middle East in the last few days.
“He’s due to be deployed there until sometime in December and is due to fly back at the weekend.”
Fagan, of New Elgin, admitted assaulting Mr Sharp by knocking him unconscious with a punch to the head.
Sentence was deferred until December 15 to allow him to return to his duties in the Middle East and for him to be of good behaviour.