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Torquay assault victim, 71, floors his attacker

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: October 10, 2012

Exeter Crown Court

A man has been found guilty of attacking a 71-year-old ex-soldier who intervened to calm down an argument at a neighbour's house.

Mark Pearce was half the age and six inches taller than former army boxing champion John Cokeley but still ended up being floored by him.

Pearce was having an argument with one of Mr Cokeley's neighbours at a block of flats in Newton Road, Torquay, when the former soldier came to investigate the noise and try and calm the confrontation.

He was punched by Pearce, suffering broken glasses and a black eye, but retaliated and flattened him with a left hook.

Pearce denied causing actual bodily harm to Mr Cokeley, claiming he was attacked by the ex-boxer and was acting in self-defence, but he was found guilty by a jury at Exeter Crown Court.

Recorder Mr Brian Lett, QC, adjourned the case for pre-sentence reports.

Pearce, of Victoria Road, Paignton, was cleared of common assault on neighbour Robert Kell in the confrontation which led to the attack on the pensioner.

During the two-day trial Mr Cokeley denied that he had seen the argument as a chance to re-live the glory days of his army boxing career.

He said: "I was in slippers and wearing glasses. It is hardly fighting gear. I threw a roundhouse blow in desperation. I just wanted to get back to my flat to carry on watching the television.

"A fight was the last thing I wanted. It is years since I was in a ring and I did not want to punch anyone unless I could not avoid it. He is a young man and 6ft 4in tall."

Pearce told the court he had only pushed Mr Cokeley away after he tried to hit him. He said he was afraid he was going to be injured by the ex boxer, despite his age and size.

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