Fury as soldier can return to Army in two years after ending Coldstream Guard’s career with punch

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A lance corporal will be allowed to return to the Army less than two years after destroying a Coldstream Guard’s career with a single punch to the head, MailOnline can reveal.

Saula Balenaka, 37, of the second battalion Yorkshire Regiment, hit fellow lance corporal Shaun Warren after a night out in Catterick, Yorkshire, last December.

After admitting grievous bodily harm at a court martial last week, Balenaka was sentenced to 22 months in military correctional centre and can then return to duty.

By contrast, Mr Warren saw his military career destroyed by his injuries which caused three bleeds on the brain and left him with permanent hearing loss.

He was medically discharged from the Army last month, and the 31-year-old father-of-three, from Killingworth, North Tyneside is now working as a joiner.

In an exclusive interview with MailOnline, Mr Warren said: ‘I’ve had to try to build a new life for myself, whereas he can serve his sentence and go back to his regiment in well under two years.

‘It has been a devastating way to see my career in the army brought to an end; I loved it and I thought I’d be in the Army for many years to come. 

Lance corporal Saula Balenaka (above) will be allowed to return to the Army less than two years after destroying a Coldstream Guard's career with a single punch to the head, MailOnline can reveal

Lance corporal Saula Balenaka (above) will be allowed to return to the Army less than two years after destroying a Coldstream Guard’s career with a single punch to the head, MailOnline can reveal

Balenaka, 37, of the second battalion Yorkshire Regiment, hit fellow lance corporal Shaun Warren after a night out in Catterick, Yorkshire, last December. Mr Warren (in Afghanistan) suffered three bleeds on the brain and was left with permanent hearing loss

Balenaka, 37, of the second battalion Yorkshire Regiment, hit fellow lance corporal Shaun Warren after a night out in Catterick, Yorkshire, last December. Mr Warren (in Afghanistan) suffered three bleeds on the brain and was left with permanent hearing loss

After being medically discharged from the Army last month, the 31-year-old father-of-three, from Killingworth, North Tyneside is now working as a joiner in his home town (above)

After being medically discharged from the Army last month, the 31-year-old father-of-three, from Killingworth, North Tyneside is now working as a joiner in his home town (above) 

In an exclusive interview with MailOnline, he said: 'It has been a devastating way to see my career in the army brought to an end; I loved it and I thought I'd be in the Army for many years to come'

In an exclusive interview with MailOnline, he said: ‘It has been a devastating way to see my career in the army brought to an end; I loved it and I thought I’d be in the Army for many years to come’ 

‘I served in Afghanistan and have seen dangerous situations which soldiers expect to have to deal with but I never saw my service ending like this.’ 

Mr Warren was attacked as he walked back to his barracks from a Christmas night out and had done nothing to provoke Balenaka. 

The court martial heard he had his hands in his pockets when he was punched and fell unconscious to the ground where he almost choked on his own vomit and fractured his skull.  

Today, Mr Warren said he didn’t understand why the motiveless assault was dealt with in a military court.

Balenaka could have faced up to five years in prison if he had been tried in a criminal court. 

‘It doesn’t feel like justice,’ said Mr Warren. ‘It was dealt with by the military because it was ‘soldier on soldier’ but it happened in Catterick as I was walking back to the barracks.  

‘It could have been dealt with by the civilian police and put in front of a criminal court where the sentence would have been much longer. 

‘I don’t know how these things are decided but the Army wanted to deal with it themselves and this has been the result. It’s very disappointing.

‘He was given credit for his guilty plea, his service record and the fact he has a dependent family. With credit for good behaviour he will only serve two thirds of his sentence.’ 

Mr Warren was attacked as he walked back to his barracks from a Christmas night out and had done nothing to provoke Balenaka

He suffered a fractured skull and three bleeds to the brain, which brought a shattering end to a distinguished 10 year military career

Mr Warren was attacked as he walked back to his barracks from a Christmas night out and had done nothing to provoke Balenaka. A court martial heard he had his hands in his pockets when he was punched and fell unconscious to the ground, having fractured his skull

Today, Mr Warren (pictured in Downing Street before the attack) said he didn't understand why the motiveless assault was dealt with in a military court. Balenaka could have faced up to five years in prison if he had been tried in a criminal court

Today, Mr Warren (pictured in Downing Street before the attack) said he didn’t understand why the motiveless assault was dealt with in a military court. Balenaka could have faced up to five years in prison if he had been tried in a criminal court

Mr Warren, 31, (pictured after the attack) said:  'I was officially medically discharged on August 11 and I've had to try to build a new life for myself, whereas he can serve his sentence and go back to his regiment in well under two years'

Mr Warren, 31, (pictured after the attack) said:  ‘I was officially medically discharged on August 11 and I’ve had to try to build a new life for myself, whereas he can serve his sentence and go back to his regiment in well under two years’

Mr Warren had been with regimental comrades at Club Louis in the the North Yorks garrison town when two groups of squaddies began arguing and fighting broke out. 

He said: ‘It didn’t involve me or my group of mates, the only role we played was to try to defuse the situation and calm people down.

‘We then left and the last thing I remember was walking home, I can’t remember him approaching me or punching me without warning. 

‘I woke up in hospital where I was told I would probably have died if my friends hadn’t cleared my airways.

‘I discovered I’d been walking along with my hands in my pockets when he hit me and I fell and struck my head. I will always be grateful to my friends as much as I will always wonder why he attacked me. 

‘It was apparently a case of mistaken identity but to me that doesn’t excuse it one bit. It was unprovoked and could have killed me.’ 

Mr Warren stayed in Darlington Memorial Hospital for four days before being allowed out.  

He spent three months convalescing at home, where he was suffering dizziness, confusion and loss of hearing in his left hear which has never returned. 

He was then taken into a military hospital where doctors began the process of rehabilitating him to the point where he could return to active duty.  

Mr Warren had been with regimental comrades at Club Louis (above) in the the North Yorks garrison town when two groups of squaddies began arguing and fighting broke out

Mr Warren had been with regimental comrades at Club Louis (above) in the the North Yorks garrison town when two groups of squaddies began arguing and fighting broke out

Balenaka, who got married just before the court martial, was sentenced to 22 months in military prison after he admitted the assault at a hearing in Catterick on September 7.

Balenaka, who got married just before the court martial, was sentenced to 22 months in military prison after he admitted the assault at a hearing in Catterick on September 7. 

He will serve his time in the Military Corrective Training Centre (MCTC) in Colchester, Essex, for what the hearing was told was an 'unprovoked attack' which left a '10 year career over in 10 minutes'

He will serve his time in the Military Corrective Training Centre (MCTC) in Colchester, Essex, for what the hearing was told was an ‘unprovoked attack’ which left a ’10 year career over in 10 minutes’

In summer he was able to return to light duties, but the catastrophic injury proved impossible to overcome. 

Mr Warren said: ‘It was too much for me, I couldn’t focus on tasks, my fatigue levels were always high and I’ve become permanently deaf in one ear. I was assessed and I knew what the outcome would be. 

‘I was officially discharged last month and it was devastating, this isn’t the life I wanted to be living. 

‘I’ve found work as a joiner, which I trained in before the Army, and I’m glad and grateful to be given a job with a construction firm, but I miss my life in the Army.

‘The judge made the point that I had played no part in any trouble and was simply walking home. It was so senseless and it’s had the most devastating effect on me and my family.’ 

Balenaka, who got married just before the court martial, will serve his time in the Military Corrective Training Centre (MCTC) in Colchester, Essex, for what the hearing was told was an ‘unprovoked attack’ which left a ’10 year career over in 10 minutes’. 

An Army spokesman said: ‘We can confirm Lance Corporal Balenaka, of 2nd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment, was found guilty of grievous bodily harm at the Military Courts Centre Catterick and sentenced to 22 months’ detention.’ 

Source


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