A former army reservist who saw active service in Iraq and Afghanistan has been handed a non-custodial sentence for assaulting a woman and then trying to get her to retract her statement.
John Philip Doran (42) today appeared by video link before the Royal Court to be sentenced for one count of grave and criminal assault and one of perverting the course of justice.
Crown Advocate Emma Hollywood, prosecuting, explained that the assault took place late last year and it occurred in the midst of an argument between Doran and the woman.
Pictured: The defendant appeared for sentencing by video link before the Royal Court.
Recounting the details of the assault, the Crown Advocate told the Court that Doran “gesticulated, causing the [woman] to step back to avoid him.”
As the victim did this, she hit her head on a shelf, causing Doran to grab it as it was falling down. He accepted that she “may have thought he was going to assault her” when he did this.
Doran then “pushed [the woman] away and put his hands on her neck.”
In her statement, the victim said that she felt “terrified at the time”, saying “he is clearly much stronger than me and I don’t know how far he would go.”
As the altercation continued, the woman ended up on the floor and Doran “put his knee on her elbow.” She also said that throughout the struggle she was “fighting for him to get off me”.
When the woman was examined by a doctor, it was noted that she had bruising to her neck and shin.
Originally, the assault was going to be dealt with in the Magistrate’s Court and Doran initially pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the charge. As part of his bail conditions, he was instructed not to contact the woman either directly or indirectly.
However, a few weeks later, the Court was told, Doran messaged a family member of the victim suggesting that the woman should “retract her statement”.
The Police were contacted and this message gave rise to the charge of perverting the course of justice. Doran “accepted when the message was sent he knew [the recipient] would likely tell the [woman] and he intended for her to consider withdrawing her statement as a result.”
Doran then pleaded ‘guilty’ to the two charges when the case came to the Royal Court.
Pictured: A message that Doran sent gave rise to a charge of perverting the course of justice.
Reading extracts from the victim’s statement explaining how she has personally been affected by the offence, Crown Advocate Hollywood told the Court that the victim said Doran’s “initial refusal to admit the assault compounded her distress,” and that her “health has deteriorated since the assault.”
The victim also said that “her life is in turmoil when she did not do anything wrong.”
Given the “seriousness” of both offences, the prosecutor invited the Court to impose a two-year prison sentence. She also asked that a restraining order be brought against Doran to prevent him contacting or seeking to contact his victim.
Speaking in his client’s defence, Advocate Mark Boothman, the lawyer said Doran “accepts the use of a military restraint technique in these circumstances was wrong... [He] should have left, he should have walked away and he didn’t do so.”
Advocate Boothman emphasised that this was not a “pre-planned assault”, but rather that “it took place in the spur of the moment.”
The defence lawyer also laid out in detail Doran’s military service. The Court was told that Doran was in the British Army Reserves between 2003 and 2013 and, during this time, he had “back-to-back tours” in Iraq and then two tours in Afghanistan.
Speaking about some of Doran’s duties whilst he was a reservist, Advocate Boothman said that he was part of the rear guard, he “mopped up injured” and would check routes for explosives as well as being involved in hand to hand combat.
The lawyer highlighted some of the “harrowing descriptions” of these experiences which Doran relayed to a Probation Officer ahead of sentencing, which involved seeing his colleagues and himself injured, witnessing explosions as well as “having to kill people”.
“Perhaps understandably, his army career has had a significant impact on his mental health.”
Advocate Boothman then took the Court through a number of findings from a Clinical Psychologist who assessed Doran – concluding he had some traits of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression.
In contrast to the Crown, the defence advocate recommended the Court impose a non-custodial sentence.
Pictured: The defence lawyer wanted a non-custodial sentence, but the prosecutor recommended jail-time.
The case was considered by Jurats Austin-Vautier and Thomas.
Handing down the Court’s decision, Deputy Bailiff Robert MacRae - sitting with two Jurats - described Doran’s assault on the woman as “unacceptable”. In relation to the message he sent, the judge said: “This is a serious matter. All victims and witnesses must know that they will be protected from those who seek to intimidate them from giving evidence.”
Noting the defendant’s guilty pleas, remorse, lack of relevant convictions and the fact Doran has “in the past risked [his] life for the public good”, the Court ultimately imposed a non-custodial sentence.
Warning Doran that he “came very close indeed to a custodial sentence today,” the Deputy Bailiff informed the 42-year-old he would have to carry out 240 hours’ community service as well as being subject to an 18-month probation order.
The Court also ordered that Doran should pay £1,000 in compensation to the victim and they granted the restraining order in the terms she requested.
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