Former Army boxing champion, 71, floors 6ft 4in thug half his age after being punched in the face in attack
By BECKY EVANS
PUBLISHED: 13:11 EST, 12 November 2012 | UPDATED: 13:11 EST, 12 November 2012
A 6ft 4ins thug who attacked a man more than twice his age was left with a dislocated shoulder after the pensioner floored him with two right hooks.
Former Army boxing champion John Cokeley said Mark Pearce 'picked on the wrong man'.
The 71-year-old was at home watching TV in his slippers when he heard Pearce rowing with a neighbour.
Mr Cokeley went outside and told Pearce to calm down when the 34-year-old punched him in the face, Exeter Crown Court heard.
Pearce hit Mr Cokeley in the head, smashing his glasses and causing a black eye.
But the pensioner, a professional welterweight undefeated in the Army, got to his feet and floored Pearce with a 'roundhouse blow'.
Pearce managed to get up but Mr Cokeley, who is 5ft 10ins, floored him for a second time with a punch to the stomach.
Mark Pearce, pictured leaving Exeter Crown Court in Devon, after being found guilty of causing actual bodily harm
Pearce denied causing actual bodily harm, claiming he was attacked by the ex-boxer and was acting in self-defence.
But he was found guilty today and sentenced to a six month prison sentence suspended for two years.
Pearce was also given a 12 month supervision order and ordered to pay Ã?Â£175 costs.
Speaking after the hearing, Mr Cokeley, who served around the world in the Army from 1957 to 1968, said: 'It was 10.15pm and I was watching TV.
'I could hear a lot of shouting outside and I realised it was coming from my friendÃ¢??s home and he is not a well man so I went to have a look.
'My friend was in the doorway and this man, who I hadnÃ¢??t seen before, was shouting from about 12ft away.
'He came over to me with his arms out and said "do you want to get involved?". He was shouting and swearing at me.
'I told him I didnÃ¢??t want to get involved, I just wanted some peace and quiet.That was when he hit me quite hard. He said "do you want some of this?".
'I said no, IÃ¢??m going to call the police and he hit me again. Then I thought enough is enough, so I threw out a right and he went down.
'He ran back at me and I hit him a good hard blow in the side. He stayed down and then the police came.
'I was in slippers and wearing glasses. It is hardly fighting gear. 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.
'I may be quite small but I am very fit for my age and I guess you could say I am quite tough. He didnÃ¢??t know who I was and I guess he picked on the wrong man.'
Following the attack at a block of flats in Torquay, Devon, on April 25, Mr Cokeley was taken to hospital suffering a cut to the head.
Pearce also needed hospital treatment for a dislocated shoulder.
Former Army boxing champion John Cokeley, right, said Pearce, dressed in black on the left, 'picked on the wrong man'
Mr Cokeley left his home in Torquay, Devon, after hearing shouting outside but when he tried to calm the row down he was attacked by Mark Pearce
Recorder Brian Lett QC told Pearce it was 'a disgraceful incident' despite Mr Cokeley being 'remarkably fit for his age'.
He said: 'He was able to call upon his professional training of many years to fight back. You assaulted him, the peacemaker, which I can only describe as serious.'
Pearce told the court he was 'afraid' he was going to be injured by the ex boxer, despite his age and size.
Pearce, of Paignton, Devon, was cleared of common assault on neighbour Robert Kell in the confrontation which led to the attack.
Mr Cokeley added: 'I would like to see him get anger management because he could have caused the death of someone.'