A backpacker who ruined a soldier's military career in a brutal street assault has been jailed for four years.
Judge Lady Dorrian sentenced Levi Virbickas to four years
Levi Virbickas, 21, from New Zealand, punched Royal Irish Regiment ranger Paul Bacon in the face 15 to 20 times and jumped on his head in the attack.
The incident happened at Falcon Square in Inverness last November after Mr Bacon had returned from Afghanistan.
At the High Court in Edinburgh, Judge Lady Dorrian said the assault had "appalling consequences".
She added that Virbickas would have faced a six-year sentence had it not been for his guilty plea.
Mr Bacon, who is set to be medically discharged from the Army, had planned to remain in the forces before pursuing a career in the police or as a paramedic.
He told police: "Now I have no future to look forward to and will be dependent on the pension from the Army."
Mr Bacon, who was based at Fort George near Inverness, was on his way to see his girlfriend when he was attacked by Virbickas in November.
He was punched in the face as he lay on the ground before the backpacker took a run and jumped full force on his head, the court heard.
Virbickas checked on the condition of the soldier before stamping hard on his face up to 10 times, then kicking the unconscious man.
He admitted assaulting Mr Bacon to his severe injury, permanent impairment and to the danger of his life.
Mr Bacon was taken to Raigmore Hospital, in Inverness, where he spent almost seven weeks receiving treatment.
Defence solicitor advocate Gordon Fleetwood said Virbickas, a first offender, had no recollection of the incident.
He told police he had shared a bottle of whisky with three others a backpackers' hostel before going to a night club, where he drank cocktails and beer.