Bandmaster traded blows with colonel 'in fight over affair'

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The Independent Online

An army chaplain traded blows with the bandmaster of the Coldstream Guards after finding him kissing his wife at a hotel bar, a court martial was told yesterday.

The fight, which began after the chaplain, Colonel the Reverend Leslie Bryan, had tracked the bandmaster, Major Ian McElligott, to the Thistle Hotel in Buckingham Palace Road, central London, continued at a bus stop on the street.

Yesterday Major McElligott, 44, appeared before the hearing in Colchester, Essex, accused of inflicting actual bodily harm on 53-year-old Colonel Bryan. If convicted the major, who conducts the bands on state occasions, is likely to be dismissed from the army and jailed.

The court was told that on 5 July last year Colonel Bryan had visited several hotels in London convinced he would find his wife, Avril, in the company of Major McElligott. After finding them "in a compromising situation", Colonel Bryan "snapped" and punched the major in the face. The two men grappled with each other, but were separated by hotel staff.

Colonel Bryan then pulled out his mobile telephone, threatening to call the police. The phone was allegedly thrown into the road by the major who is then said to have punched the colonel in the face and kicked him.

The colonel ran down the street to the bus stop, pursued by the major who repeatedly punched him in the face in what one witness described as "a frenzied attack", before being restrained by the public.

Colonel Bryan was taken to St Thomas' Hospital in south London where he was treated for a deep cut on his cheek, facial bruising and a fractured cheekbone.

Major McElligott, who joined the Army as a private, met Colonel Bryan when they were serving in Gibraltar and their families became friendly. They were then both posted to Wellington Barracks in London.

In April last year, Colonel Bryan began suspecting the major was having an affair with his wife. On the day of the assault Mrs Bryan had gone out in the morning, saying she was going to meet a friend, but her husband suspected she was heading for an assignation with the major.

The case continues.