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Edinburgh crime: Army soldier fractures man's eye socket in punch outside Three Sisters pub in Cowgate

Jul 30, 2023

A soldier left an army colleague with a fractured eye socket after the pair argued on a drunken night out in Edinburgh.

Gordon Smart punched Lance Corporal John Dill to the face when the pair clashed in an alleyway near the Three Sisters pub in Cowgate. Smith, 35, and Mr Dill had been drinking alcohol in the pub as part of a larger group and had been said to be "continually annoying" each other throughout the day in August last year.



The two soldiers left the Three Sisters to sort out their disagreement and began fighting at the nearby Scott's Close. Smart, from Motherwell, Lanarkshire, was arrested after the incident was reported to police and Mr Dill was rushed to hospital for treatment for his facial injuries.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court was told Smart was facing an administrative discharge from the army if he was to be sentenced to a custodial sentence or a community payback order comprising more than 100 hours of unpaid work. Sheriff Alistair Noble was handed several references from Smart's superior officers and was told he had completed two marathons and an ultra-marathon while raising thousands of pounds for charity.

The sheriff noted Smart's army career was described as "on an upward path" and decided to mark the assault by ordering the soldier to pay a £395 fine. The sheriff said: "It doesn't appear to me to be appropriate other than imposing a financial penalty."

During the hearing on Tuesday, May 30, fiscal depute India McLean told the court the two soldiers were part of larger group who were out socialising in Edinburgh city centre on August 24, 2022. Ms McLean said the group entered the Three Sisters at around 4pm and Smart and Mr Dill had been "continually annoying each other" but others deemed their behaviour to be "light-hearted".



The court heard the pair left the pub together a short time later and he entered nearby Scott's Close. Ms MacLean said "Smart has punched Mr Dill to the head" causing bleeding and the victim subsequently suffered a fractured eye socket. Police attended the scene and Smart admitted the assault on his colleague and was taken to the city's St Leonard's station.

Lawyer Dan Cameron said his client was an "exemplary" soldier but faced being discharged from the army if the court's sentence reached a certain threshold. Mr Cameron said ending Smart's military career would be "disproportionate" and said Mr Dill "bears him no ill will".

The court was told the victim had declined to give a police statement and did not want the matter to end up in court. Mr Cameron said: "He wished the matter had been kept inside the regiment." An Army officer present in court told Sheriff Noble that "Lance Corporal Dill is fully recovered now".