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Friday, 25 July 2014

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Ex-soldier wins his compensation battle

Stephen Bitcon in his army days

A FORMER soldier who attacked a taxi driver 10 years ago has won his fight to overturn £2,500 compensation awarded against him.

Stephen Bitcon, 32, of Kirklea, Little Broughton, was told by District Judge Gerald Chalk on Monday that he does not have to pay the outstanding £2,190 because he has not worked since leaving the army in 1994 and has no prospect of getting a job.

Bitcon said the order was made on the basis he was working in the army but he was sacked after being convicted of the assault.

He is on incapacity benefit and has spoken in the past about being traumatised by his experience in the army. He has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Bitcon was spared a jail term for the assault in 1994 after the judge acknowledged the effect “the stress of military service” had on him.

The court was told at the time Bitcon turned to drink to blot out the horrors of his service, in which he saw colleagues murdered and mutilated.

After a drinking binge in Carlisle, Bitcon grabbed taxi driver Allan Livingstone, 54, from behind and smashed his head against the steering wheel and pavement before driving off in the cab.

A 60mph police pursuit ended when Bitcon left the road and crashed into a fence.

He was given a two-year suspended jail term but went to prison nine months later after assaulting his sister’s disabled ex-husband in a nightclub toilet.

Bitcon told Judge Chalk he had spent 38 months in jail for that attack in 1998, despite only being sentenced to 10 months. Because of time spent on remand, he served three-and-a-half years.

Judge Chalk formally discharged the compensation awarded to the taxi firm, the driver and Axa Insurance.

He said: “You have not worked for 10 years and there is medical evidence that you have problems. It is not appropriate to have the compensation hanging over your head after 10 years.”

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