UK

Eric Joyce Avoids Jail For Attacking Two Teenagers, But Former MP Must Attend Anti-Violence Programme

27/05/2015 15:21 BST | Updated 27/05/2015 15:59 BST

Former MP Eric Joyce has avoided jail after attacking two teenagers in an "unjustified and unprovoked" attack, but has been ordered to undergo a violence prevention programme.

The 54-year-old attacked the boys aged 14 and 15 at News and Food Express in Chalk Farm, north London, on October 17 last year.

District Judge John Zani, passing sentence at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Wednesday, handed down a 10-week jail term, suspended for two years, and fined Joyce £1,080.

mp eric joyce

Eric Joyce avoided jail time on Wednesday when he was sentenced for assaulting two teenage boys in a Chalk Farm shop

Joyce, who the court was told had overcome an "alcohol problem", was also ordered to attend a rehabilitation programme which aims to reduce violent behavior.

The former MP for Falkirk insisted at his trial earlier this month that he was performing a ''citizen's arrest'' on the teenagers, but the judge found him guilty of two counts of common assault.

Prosecutor Jonathan Swain told the court that it was an "unjustified and unprovoked assault on both boys".

Joyce grabbed the 14-year-old and knocked him to the floor, before continuing to hold and wrestle with him.

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Eric Joyce sentenced over assaults

The second boy tried to help his friend but was elbowed by Joyce and winded, the court heard.

Joyce was convicted in 2012 of four common assaults in a House of Commons bar - which led to his resignation from the Labour Party - and last year of breaching the peace at Edinburgh Airport after being ''threatening and abusive''.

In passing sentence for Joyce's latest attack, District Judge Zani said: "In my view the evidence against you was very overwhelming and the defence that you put forward was lacking in any credibility, particularly when one looks at the CCTV evidence and your interpretation of what that demonstrated, I'm afraid, vastly differed from the way I saw the events portrayed."

He went on: "The events in October 2014 did you no credit. Your reaction to what you perceived was happening in the shop was entirely unacceptable."

The judge told him that he must ensure he avoids violence in the future.

"I'm just able in all the circumstances here to suspended the term of imprisonment," he said.

"I consider that you have dealt with your alcohol problem and you need to focus on dealing with situations where there is a requirement for you not to resort to violence."

In mitigation, Neil Corre, defending, urged the judge to suspend any custodial term because of Joyce's efforts to battle his drink problem.

He said: "This is an intelligent, healthy man who has served his country in the armed services and in parliament.

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"He understands that his previous offending was because he had a drink problem and it's in my submission an indication of the strength of his character that he himself has overcome that drink problem through determination and will power.

"That is why in my submission he is a positive candidate for a suspended sentence."

Speaking after the hearing, Joyce said: "I think that is a fair outcome."

Asked if he felt remorse for his actions, he added: "Of course. In the end it was a 14-year-old boy and that is a shame and a cause of considerable remorse and I have to both pay the price and make sure I don't do it again."

Joyce's fine included £200 compensation for the teenager he knocked to the floor.