A HIT-and-run driver who ‘panicked’ and knocked over a serviceman in Weymouth town centre has been given a community order.

Trooper John Little was left with a broken back following an incident in Maiden Street in the early hours of September 3 last year in which he was struck by the car being driven by Daniel Coulson.

Following a trial at Dorchester Crown Court 22-year-old Coulson was cleared of charges of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and dangerous driving.

However, he had previously admitted charges of unlawful wounding and driving without due care and attention. Trooper Little, who was training at Bovington at the time of the incident, spent six days in hospital and had to wear a back brace for four months, with his injuries effectively stalling his career in the army.

Judge Roger Jarvis made it clear that, given the jury’s verdicts in the trial and the defendant’s admissions, he could only sentence in relation to the cuts and lacerations Trooper Little sustained and the fact Coulson had been driving recklessly.

In mitigation, Robert Pawson said Coulson was driving through town on the night in question and had drunk people banging on his car, causing him to panic and try and force his way past Trooper Little. He said: “The injury itself was a dreadful consequence of Mr Coulson’s panic. It really was one momentary matter of dreadful misjudgement.”

Mr Pawson added: “Mr Coulson is, as he has always expressed, genuinely sorry for the injury caused.”

Coulson, of Faircross Avenue, was sentenced to a 12-month community order with a requirement to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work in the community and a three-month curfew order.

He was also banned from driving for six months, although Mr Pawson revealed he had sold his car and had not driven since.

Judge Roger Jarvis ordered that Coulson pay £3,000 in compensation to Trooper Little.

He said: “I’m sure you wish you could turn the clock back. You certainly lost your judgement on this occasion and the consequences for Mr Little have been quite significant.

“It is shameful that, having knocked someone over, you didn’t stop to see how that person was.”