AN ex-soldier and part-time footballer has been jailed for attacking two people at a 21st birthday party.

Steven Mercer, 25, of Chapel Street, Oswaldtwistle, headbutted Alex Holt, and then smashed a glass into the face of Mr Holt’s uncle Brian Wakeling, leaving him scarred for life.

The Clitheroe FC player, who has since been sacked by the club, had served in Afghanistan and spent three-and-a-half years in the Parachute Regiment.

He was jailed for two-and-a-half years, at Preston Crown Court, on Monday.

Mark Ford, defending, said: “He would not be the first person finding the transition from army life to civilian life difficult. He bitterly regrets his actions.

Mr Ford said his client had written letters of apology.

“The defendant struck Mr Wakeling to the head with a glass while in a headlock and without appreciating he held a glass in his hand when he did so.

“The defendant was acting with excessive self-defence. Drink is not a problem for this man, but controlling his anger is.”

Mercer pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and unlawful wounding, over the events at Clitheroe Social Club, Wellgate, in April last year.

The birthday – for Mr Holt’s sister – was supposed to be a private function, but non-guests were allowed in.

Miss Mercedeh Jabbari, prosecuting, said that as Mr Holt reached for his drink, he accidently brushed past Mercer and words were exchanged.

Mr Holt turned to face Mercer and was immediately head-butted on the bridge of his nose.

He was in a lot of pain and bleeding. As he walked towards the toilets, he passed his uncle who asked him about what had happened.

The defendant was pointed out. Mr Wakeling made his way over to Mercer and grabbed the defendant in a headlock.

Miss Jabbari added: “There was a scuffle and the defendant swung his hand, containing a glass, and smashed it in his face. Mr Wakeling ended up with multiple scars to his face.”

Mr Wakeling needed up to 30 stitches to his face, spent three days in hospital, and would bear the scars for the rest of his life.

Mercer had attended an awards presentation evening at Clitheroe FC minutes before the attack.

The defender signed on semi-professional terms in March 2011, and appeared in around 20 games towards the end of the season and the start of the current campaign.

Clitheroe manager and former chairman Carl Garner said: “It is regrettable, a sad state of affairs.

"But it doesn’t reflect on our club. As soon as he pleaded guilty. his contract was ended by mutual consent.”