A former soldier slapped a man in the face after losing his cool during a road rage incident in Sudbury, a court heard.
Iain Fordham, who has served with the British Armed Forces for more than two decades, struck Lawrence Bird when the pair became locked in an argument over who should reverse their car and let the other past on Constitution Hill.
On Tuesday, Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court heard that Fordham, of First Avenue, Sudbury, had met Mr Bird head-on at around 4.20pm on September 18.
“There was no collision as they were both travelling at sensible speeds, but they both felt unable to reverse,” said David Bryant, prosecuting.
“There was an argument over who should move and Fordham got out of his car and was being aggressive and abusive.”
Mr Bryant said Fordham, who pleaded guilty to threatening and abusive behaviour, had removed the keys from Mr Bird’s car and thrown them at his chest, before slapping him in the face with his right hand.
“Although Mr Bird said the slap did sting, he was more shocked than anything else and as he had suffered a stroke for years ago he could not defend himself,” said Mr Bryant.
In police interview, Fordham, 38, said he had been attempting to take an injured pigeon to a veterinary surgery and believed Mr Bird had been aggressive and was to blame for the incident.
Paul Tipple, in mitigation, said his client had been in the armed forces for more than 20 years and was a frontline soldier until 2005 when he sustained a knee injury.
“He is very highly regarded in the Army,” said Mr Tipple. “This unfortunate incident is completely out of character for a man who was an exemplary soldier.”
Mr Tipple said over the last four years, Fordham had been put in charge of the repatriation of killed soldiers, but had struggled to cope with the emotional issues involved.
“He built up close relationships with the soldiers and felt responsible for the deaths of those he had recruited,” he told the court.
Mr Tipple added that since 2012, Fordham, who lives with his wife and their three children from previous relationships, had been treated for post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety. He was also taking care of his elderly mother and father.
“He has always been there to help others, but has not had help for himself,” said Mr Tipple. “He deeply regrets his actions and was not aware that this person had had a stroke four-and-a-half years previously.”
Fordham was given a conditional discharge for two years and ordered to pay £200 in court costs.