Ex-soldier avoids jail for attack

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The Independent Online

A former special forces soldier who bit part of a man's ear off in a road rage attack was spared jail today after a judge was told of his "exemplary" service.

Steven Owens, 27, was given a nine-month suspended sentence after he pleaded guilty to unlawfully wounding Matthew Runyard last October.

Owens, of Marham Gardens, Morden, south London, attacked Mr Runyard after a dispute when both men were driving on London's Victoria Embankment.

The Old Bailey heard Owens entered the Parachute Regiment at the age of 16 before joining special forces and serving in Northern Ireland, Afghanistan and Iraq.

On one occasion he was first on the scene when his friend was killed in a suicide bombing, and on another went back to rescue a fellow soldier under fire.

Owens suffered problems with anger and the collapse of his marriage after leaving the Army, said Julia Flanagan, mitigating.

She said going to jail would be an "ignominious end to a noble career" of someone who had "tried to help their country".

Judge Peter Beaumont, the Recorder of London, told Owens: "You have a distinguished Army service. You can be proud of that."

He ordered him to pay £1,200 compensation.