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Soldier jailed over balcony death given new sentence for machete attack

John Norwood
John Norwood

A British Army colour sergeant has been jailed for eight years for a "horrifying" machete attack on a fellow soldier as it was revealed that he had previously served time for the culpable homicide of his uncle.

A jury at Portsmouth Crown Court convicted 39-year-old John Norwood, of the 1st Battalion Scots Guards, of the wounding with intent of Lance Sergeant James Warnock at Mons barracks in Aldershot, Hampshire, on July 11 last year.

David Richards, prosecuting, said the attack sliced L/Sgt Warnock's shoulder and also caused an injury to the nerves of his left hand, meaning he could no longer hold a weapon and faces a possible medical discharge from the Army.

Sentencing Norwood, Judge James Townsend said he took into account the defendant's "exemplary" service in the Army and added : "The injury suffered was a horrific one and caused him long-term distress and may lead to his discharge or movement in the Army."

In a statement read to the court, L/Sgt Warnock, who has served two tours of duty in Afghanistan, said: "I have known danger and faced enemy troops during these tours; the attack on me by John Norwood left me terrified for my own safety in my own camp environment where I should be safe and secure."

He added: "I can only describe how I felt as horrifying. Seeing my mum think she might lose her son was perhaps more upsetting than the assault."

The court was told that Norwood, a father of two, was previously jailed for 18 months in 1996 for the culpable homicide of a man who died after he fell from a balcony during a fight with the defendant.

The incident involved Norwood's uncle, Matthew Houston, at a flat in Glasgow.

The court heard that Norwood was not judged to be wholly responsible for the 35-year-old's death because he had refused medical treatment for his injuries.

The court was also told that Norwood was jailed for two years in March 2000 for three counts of wounding following a pub fight in Burnley.

Alistair Wright, defending, said Norwood had written a letter to the judge expressing his regret for the barracks attack.

He added: "This is a loss to the Army and, through that, a loss to the rest of us because, but for these events, this is someone you would want looking after your country."

Prosecutor Mr Richards told the trial that the attack at Mons barracks followed a confrontation in The George pub in Aldershot town centre during which L/Sgt Warnock punched the defendant to the ground.

He said Norwood, angered by his wounded pride, returned to the barracks to retrieve a machete and went searching for L/Sgt Warnock.

At about 3am, he went to the wrong room and swung the machete at the bed of 24-year-old Craftsman Nicholas Wood and about two hours later found L/Sgt Warnock's room where he attacked him.

Norwood, of Priesthill Road, Pollok, Glasgow, told the trial that he had taken the machete "to put the fear of God into" L/Sgt Warnock.