Army Captain ‘lost 40 per cent of his blood after a Lieutenant hit him in the face with a vodka bottle as they played beer pong and pool in the officers’ mess’, court martial hears
A British Army captain told a court martial how he lost 40 per cent of his blood and needed a transfusion after a Lieutenant hit him in the face with a vodka bottle as they played beer pong and pool in the officers’ mess.
Lieutenant David Southwick broke Captain Freddie Sochon’s nose when he struck him with the bottle of Absolut vodka, leaving him in hospital for a week and requiring emergency medical treatment.
Bulford Military Court in Wiltshire heard the pair had been drinking heavily with two others after a barbecue and that Lt Southwick became so drunk he began ‘throwing glass bottles’ around the room.
The other officers decided it was time to take him to bed after he ruined a card game by pouring beer on the cards.
But after walking towards the door Lt Southwick allegedly picked up a vodka bottle and turned to hit his superior officer and ‘very good friend’ with it.
Capt Sochon was hospitalised for a week due to his injuries, and bled so much he had to undergo a blood transfusion.
Lt Southwick, of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, denies one charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
Army captain Freddie Sochon (pictured above) told a court martial how he lost 40 per cent of his blood and needed a transfusion after a Lieutenant hit him in the face with a vodka bottle
The court heard the pair had known each other for several years having attended the same sixth form in Loughborough, Leicestershire, together, and then both going to university in Newcastle.
On Friday November 6 last year Lt Southwick and two other officers went to a barbecue and were celebrating Capt Sochon’s last night at the officer’s mess at RMP Chivenor, in North Devon, before he went on a training course, the court was told.
Giving evidence, Capt Sochon said the night had began jovially, but descended with Lt Southwick’s drunken behaviour.
He told the court: ‘After the barbecue we came inside into the mess so we could play games.
‘We played pool, beer pong and cards for two to three hours. We were all very drunk – we had drank differing amounts and I had had in the region of 20 units.
‘We started drinking and playing games and at one point Lt Southwick started throwing glass bottles around the room.
‘Some smashed and some were being thrown uncomfortably close to other people in the room.
‘Later on we were playing cards and Lt Southwick started pouring beer all over the cards. He was clearly more drunk than everyone else in the room.
‘At around midnight another officer and I decided it was time to take Lt Southwick to bed.
‘We walked out in single file and I was behind Lt Southwick.
‘There was a table close to the door and I thought he was moving his hand toward the handle, but Lt Southwick grabbed a vodka bottle very quickly and in one instant swung round to his right with a straight arm and hit me with the bottle, holding it at the neck.
Bulford Military Court (file photo, above) in Wiltshire heard the pair had been drinking heavily in the officers’ mess with two others after a barbecue and that Lt David Southwick became so drunk he began ‘throwing glass bottles’ around the room
‘It struck me on the side of my nose with enough force to deviate my septum.. At this point Lt Southwick was facing me with the bottle still in his hand, so I punched him in the nose.’
The court heard the punch broke Lt Southwick’s nose and sent him flying onto a coffee table, where he hit his head and suffered a concussion.
Capt Sochon, who was a Lieutenant at the time of the incident, continued: ‘Lt Southwick became emotional and said, ‘Why did you hit me?’ I said, ‘Because you just hit me with a bottle around my face’.
‘By this point I had painted the floor with blood and went to sort myself out.’
Capt Sochon was taken to nearby North Devon District Hospital and later transferred to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.
He was discharged the following morning and returned to stay at his grandparents’ house, near RMP Chivenor, but was readmitted two nights later when he woke up with ‘my nose bleeding down my throat’ to the point where he was ‘choking on my own blood’.
He was operated on later that week under general anaesthetic and had to be given a blood transfusion after losing 40 per cent of his blood.
Lt Southwick insists he never intended to strike Capt Sochon with the bottle, but ‘perceived a threat’ after his friend put his arms on him, and forgot the bottle was in his hands.
Lt Southwick, who was Second Lieutenant at the time, said: ‘We had never argued about anything before this.
‘Capt Sochon grabbed both of my arms and was visibly annoyed and was being aggressive to say the least.
‘I had a bottle of Absolut vodka in my hand but at the time it didn’t occur to me. I perceived a threat; I felt he was going to take me to ground and start grappling me.
‘I was trying to push his arms off of me and I hit him with the bottle as it rotated around his arms.
‘Initially I felt his arms come off me so I stepped back. I could see he had injured himself. Almost instantly he came at me and hit me, and I fell on the coffee table.
‘I felt terrible. It was not my intention at all to hit anyone – especially not a close friend of mine.’
The trial continues.