A SOLDIER whose work was described as fantastic was told by a court on Tuesday he appeared to be a different person when he had been drinking.
Harrogate magistrates heard how Christopher Thomas White, a corporal at the town’s Army Foundation College in Penny Pot Lane, had made sexual remarks to two women as they climbed into a car in Parliament Street early on August 12.
Prosecutor Steven Ovenden said Thomas Edwards had driven his silver Vauxhall Corsa to collect his girlfriend and one of her friends from a night out. The two women had left a bar to get into the car when 27-year-old White directed ‘‘inappropriate sexual comments’’ at them.
When they closed the car door behind them an angry White punched twice at a rear window before headbutting the glass and smashing it. Mr Edwards, fearing a confrontation, had driven off.
But CCTV cameras had followed White’s progress and police arrested him. When shown the footage he accepted what he had done and added: ‘‘I am sorry, I apologise for my actions.’’
When White, who was not legally represented, pleaded guilty to criminal damage he said he could not really remember what he had done. He said he had been to a “mess do at Ripon camp”. But the next day a friend had told him what had happened.
White said there had been some girls on the other side of the road. They had been shouting and he had gone over to tell them to calm down.
‘‘Before I knew it both of them were hitting and punching me,’’ he told presiding magistrate Lindsay Addyman adding that he had not retaliated as ‘‘I have never struck a girl in my life.’’
When the women got into a car he could not follow so he headbutted a window in what he knew was a stupid action.
After hearing two earlier incidents of violence, one on a tour of duty in Germany, had been dealt with by the military authorities, Mrs Addyman said they too had involved drink.
White said he had been promoted twice since then and the court heard he was regarded as an exemplary corporal – “fantastic, very reliable and trustworthy”.
Ordering a fine of £400 together with £100 compensation, £85 costs and a £15 victim surcharge Mrs Addyman commented: ‘‘Out of drink you are a sound, solid citizen, doing a good job in the Army, for which we commend you. But you have to curb your behaviour when drinking.’’
When White said in addition to the court’s penalty he would face an Army charge Mrs Addyman told him: ‘‘That is not a concern of the court. This is something which happened on the streets of Harrogate and we have to deal with it.’’