A MAN with his sights set on joining the Army has been banned from pubs across Darlington after spitting in the face of a landlady, punching her friend and attempting to choke a police officer.

After having his application to join the forces delayed by a knee injury, Sean Craig Peel turned to alcohol, Darlington Magistrates Court heard today (Thursday March 6).

Deciding to drown his sorrows Peel joined his twin brother on Wednesday February 19 for drinks in Darlington’s Old English Gentleman pub – despite already being banned from licensed premises in the town.

When the landlady, who recognised Peel and knew he was barred, asked him to leave the pub, he became aggressive and confrontational – throwing items around the pub, spitting in her face and punching her male friend, leaving him bruised and dizzy.

When police arrived, Peel – of Mildred Street, Darlington – resisted arrest and during the ensuing struggle wrapped his legs around an officer’s neck in a choke hold.

The unemployed 21-year-old was handed a conditional discharge after pleading guilty to two counts of assault by beating, one count of assaulting a constable and another of resisting a constable in the execution of their duty.

He was also banned from entering any licensed premises within Darlington town centre.

The sentence came after Sonny Lawson, mitigating, told the court that a community sentence could harm his future with the Army.

Mr Lawson said: “This was a very unsavoury incident and he knows his behaviour was completely unacceptable.

“He was set to join the parachute regiment and was due to start training but injured his knee and had his application put back.

“When the Army find out about this incident, there will be concerns but he knows he brought this on himself.

“If he is given a community order, it is inevitable that the Army will put his application on hold and may reconsider letting him join at all.

“But where does he go from there? He has given up employment opportunities and his entire life is focused on joining the Army – hopefully the Army will instil some discipline in him.

“It is my plea today to give him chance to turn his life around and take the opportunities the Army could give him and then hopefully we willnever see Sean Peel before the courts again.”