Former East Lancs soldier with Afghanistan brain injury jailed

Ashley Clark

Ashley Clark

First published in East Lancashire by , Court reporter

AN ex-soldier brain injured after being blown up in Afghanistan has been jailed for a catalogue of drunken violence, after he flouted a chance handed him by a judge.

Ashley Clark, 23, a former member of the Duke of Lancaster's infantry, saw two friends die and suffered life-changing injuries as a teenager, when he and his comrades were the victims of a roadside bomb in August 2010.

Burnley Crown Court heard how Clark, now a web designer, first began drinking to self-medicate after he was medically discharged from the Army and had found it very difficult to cope with civilian life.

Clark had recently started to tackle his problems, but for Judge Andrew Woolman it was too late.

The hearing was told how the defendant had had sentence deferred by the judge last December. Clark had lost his temper and racially abused a taxi driver, ranting and swearing and calling him a terrorist, in the early hours of July 25, last year.

When police arrived, he struggled with them, bit a female officer on the arm and booted her colleague in the shin. Three months later, on October 25, he had been drunk and disorderly.

During the deferment period, Clark had been one of two people involved in a sustained attack in March, again on a taxi driver, who was punched and subjected to a number of kicks after he was knocked to the ground. All the offences were committed during a suspended sentence for a 'premeditated' raid on the defendant's aunt and uncle's Rossendale farmhouse, when he took a £5,500 haul.

Clark had been given 12 months in custody, suspended for 18 months, with supervision, in October 2012, after admitting burglary.

Clark's barrister said he had recently attended an alcohol treatment course and had made good progress. He did receive some counselling and had made positive changes in his life, but clearly needed help.

The defendant, of Westmorland Street, Burnley, was locked up for a total of 21 months. He had admitted racially aggravated threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, two counts of police assault, being drunk and disorderly and common assault and was in breach of the suspended term. He has 11 offences on his record.

Passing sentence, Judge Woolman told the defendant he had deferred sentence partly because of his 'horrific experience' in Afghanistan when Clark was in a vehicle which was blown up and witnessed the death of two of his friends.

The judge said: "I gave you a chance on December 13 and nobody could say that you have taken it. I said you had got to keep away from alcohol and seek help and go to Salute and other organisations, although belatedly you might have done. When you left court on December 13, that was your last chance."

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