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Soldier Peter McQuade in court after parading through Canterbury streets

The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders parade through Canterbury city centre
The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders parade through Canterbury city centre

Soldiers from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders parade through Canterbury

by Annette Wilson

A soldier who paraded through Canterbury yesterday appeared at the city's Crown Court today to be sentenced for breaking a man's leg.

Sentence on Pte Peter McQuade of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders 5th Battalion from Howe Barracks, was deferred in April last year when the court was told he was due back on active service in Afghanistan.

Pte McQuade was warned then he could be facing three years for wounding with intent, which he admitted, but the judge indicated that if there was a chance the soldier's career could be resurrected, he was prepared to take such a course.

Today the court heard from Pte McQuade's Platoon Commander Lt Mark Sandy that while on operation tour in Helmand province, Pte McQuade's main mission was to mentor the Afghan national police.

Also while on tour Pte McQuade produced a blog for the Daily Telegraph which by Thursday night had received over 200,000 hits.

The officer said: "The Battalion had the choice of any soldier and chose Pte McQuade because he was a soldier they could trust to accurately portray what it was we were doing while on the tour and I believe that speaks highly of his character."

He added that the Battalion wanted Pte McQuade back "without a shadow of a doubt". He added the soldier was also due to marry next month.

He said the commanding officer was very keen that he explained how well Pte McQuade had conducted himself on tour.

"We have invested a lot of time and effort in the young soldier and are very keen he can put this behind him and progress within the regiment and get back to nomality," he said.

Pte McQuade had broken the victim's leg in an attack in an underpass in Canterbury in December 2008. Darren Levitt's leg was so badly injured, the bone was sticking out and he had to undergo extensive surgery.

Another soldier was conditionally discharged for assaulting Mr Levitt by punching him on the nose.

Pte McQuade had been remanded in civilian custody for a while after going AWOL then giving himself up.

On Friday, Judge Nigel Van der Bijl bound Pte McQuade to come up for judgement if called which would allow him to continue his career but leave it open to the courts to revisit the offence if necessary. Judge Van der Bijl said the onus was very much on the defendant.

"If a prison sentence, even a suspended sentence is passed, that can complicate matters and a community penalty is completely irrelevant. He is serving his country in a far more dangerous way than anybody on community service."

He told Pte McQuade: "This was a terrible drunken incident that went far too far. It was made worse when you went AWOL. But now you are back on track and have lots of opportunities with people behind you. Keep off the bottle. If you can't hold your drink, drink milk or something like that - or lemonade. It was drink that was your downfall."

He explained the bind over effectively meant judgement was deferred for ever, so it was not hanging over Pte McQuade's head but it may come up again if he got into similar trouble in the future.

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