Judges reject appeal of soldier who attacked colleague over wives' Facebook row
12:10pm Tuesday 8th October 2013 in News
A “SUPERB SOLDIER” who attacked a colleague after their wives had a disagreement over Facebook has failed to convince top judges his reduction in rank was 'too severe' a punishment.
London's Criminal Appeal Court heard 43-year-old father-of-five, Lee Flannery, from Bolton, who had 22 years distinguished service in the army, headbutted and kicked fellow officer, Gary Blakeley, while the pair were attending a dinner in Germany.
He was handed a suspended sentence — and demoted three ranks from warrant officer to corporal — by a court martial sitting at Catterick Garrison in February, after he was convicted of inflicting grievous bodily harm on Mr Blakeley, also a warrant officer.
Flannery, who has since left the army, challenged his sentence at London's Criminal Appeal Court, with his lawyers arguing that the grave financial consequences of his demotion amounted to a “disproportionate” punishment.
But his appeal was dismissed by three of the country's top judges.
Lord Justice Pitchford said that Flannery and Mr Blakeley were both officers in the Royal Logistics Corps and had worked together and been friends for about three years when the assault happened in November 2011.
The judge said a recent falling out between their wives over a discussion on Facebook created 'ill-feeling' between the pair. They both went to an annual Polish dinner in Germany, on November 24, and, while they were standing outside a mess bar, Flannery headbutted the victim before kicking him while he was on the ground.
Mr Blakeley suffered a fractured nose.
Flannery claimed the attack was in self-defence, but the court martial board found him guilty as charged. The court heard he had an exemplary service record.
The judge said that, as a result of the board's decision to demote him by three ranks, Flannery — who was close to retirement — suffered great financial loss, including a reduction of £4,000 in his retirement lump sum and about £1,300 in his annual pension.