A SOLDIER who was involved in a drunken fight 'accidentally' punched his wife after she stepped in to help him, a court heard.

Lewis Andrew Victor Rutter, of Landsbury Drive in Tidworth, pleaded guilty to assaulting his wife, causing her actual bodily harm, at Ludgershall Sports and Social Club on December 7, 2022.

The 33-year-old, who serves in the Armed Forces, appeared in Salisbury Magistrates' Court on Thursday, June 15, to be sentenced.

Paul Legg, prosecuting, told the court how Rutter was "drunk" and had 10 pints of alcohol to drink on the night of the incident.

Rutter claimed he was assaulted by another man outside the sports club and a fight broke out in which he sustained a head injury after being knocked to the ground.

His wife then intervened to try and separate the two men before being punched in the face by her husband.

She was unable to open her eye and had a swollen lip after the assault.

A staff member at the club called 999 and Rutter was arrested.

Police imposed a restraining order and Rutter was unable to contact his wife or see his three children for four months, a decision which was "entirely against the will of his wife", according to Ned Sillett, in mitigation. 

In a statement, Rutter told police: "I never intended to punch my wife. It was an accident."

Rutter's wife did not provide a statement to the police and appeared in the public gallery to support her husband during the court hearing.

Mr Sillett added: "This is a man who made one drunken mistake. It is completely out of character. He knows and accepts that he should not have done this, he was just trying to protect her.

"He understands the repercussions and will not make this mistake again."

In a statement read to the court, Rutter's wife described her husband as a "loving and kind man" who has a "strong personal relationship with his loved ones".

Magistrates ordered Rutter to pay a total of £1,323 to the court, which included a £884 fine, £354 surcharge and £85 costs.

Presiding Justice Sarah Neist said: "It was a drunken unpleasant social incident but it does not appear to be an incident of domestic violence.

"You have previous good character with a responsible job and you have shown remorse."