A DRUNKEN soldier's career has been left in tatters despite a judge sparing him jail for an unprovoked, attack on a pensioner in the street.

Burly rugby player Kieran Biddle had been boozing in the mess at Lyneham before going out in Swindon and downing far more alcohol than he could handle.

But after hearing the attacks were out of character and he will be thrown out of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers a judge imposed a suspended sentence.

George Threlfall, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court how Biddle committed two unprovoked assaults on strangers within half an hour on Sunday, March 19.

And having decked the 76-year-old, leaving him with a fractured eye socket, he even pretended to help the stricken old man as he lay on the ground in agony.

Mr Threlfall said the first incident took place when the soldier approached a couple and asked the man if he was on Tinder.

When he replied 'Do I look like I am on Tinder?', the burly squaddie punched him to the face, knocking him to the ground.

A little while later he said a widower, who had gone out for a drink with a lady friend, was set upon close to The Savoy pub.

As a result of the attack the pensioner, who has taken early retirement to tend to his late wife as she suffered Alzheimer's, suffered multiple fractures to his face.

Mr Threlfall told the court that as police tended the victim on the ground Biddle was also there pretending to help him.

"The defendant came in an tried to pretend while the police were there that he was giving some sort of assistance.

"However befuddled he was there was some element of self-preservation," he said.

When he was questioned Biddle said could remember nothing of the night before but when he saw CCTV footage he branded himself a 'coward'.

He told officers that after four pints in the mess he got through four more with two vodka Red Bulls and a few Jagermeisters.

"That is a huge amount of alcohol to consume: the Crown say it was more than this young man could handle without becoming gratuitously aggressive," Mr Threlfall said.

Biddle, of Corby, Northants, pleaded guilty to grievous bodily harm and assault by beating when he appeared at Swindon Crown Court.

Ellen McAnaw, defending, said he could offer no explanation for what he did and realised the damage he had done to his victims and himself.

"He is 20 years of age now, 19 at the time of these offences. He has ruined his career and potentially the rest of his life because of his actions one night" she said.

Apart from that incident she said he was a respected member of the regiment and rugby player but would now have to find a new job.

She said were he to receive a jail term, even if it were suspended sentence, of 100 hours of unpaid work he would be thrown out of the forces.

Passing sentence Judge Robert Pawson said “You conducted yourself disgracefully, absolutely disgracefully.

"Your drunken, cowardly, thuggery has meant that a blameless man aged 76 has got ongoing physical injuries.

"You went up to him when you were so drunk you could barely see and punched him. You are a powerfully built 20-year-old who plays rugby.

"If you had punched an opponent on the rugby pitch in that way you would have probably broken bones in his face.

"To go up to a man in the street, a widower who retired early to look after his wife who had Alzheimer’s, is disgraceful. Wholly unprovoked.

"As a result not only have you caused him ongoing pain and distress but every time he has to wash his teeth he remembers you punching him.

"You were serving as a member of the REME: you have brought shame on your regiment. A low-level consequence really given everything else. Perhaps just as tragically you have torpedoed your own army career.”

He imposed a 16 month prison sentence, suspended for two years, with 200 hours of unpaid work and ordered he pay £5,000 compensation to the pensioner and £250 to the other victim.