Three middle-aged York men have been spared jail following an almighty ruckus at a York bar which descended into “utter chaos”.
Peter Harris, 51, John Raper, 45, and Michael Rudkin, 52, were in the thick of the drunken brawl at the Stone Roses Bar in King Street where fists were flying, young women were screaming and several people were injured, York Crown Court heard.
Prosecutor David Ward said the incident kicked off just after 9pm at the rock ‘n’ roll-themed bar where an “unknown male” started causing trouble, forcing doormen to intervene.
Harris started arguing with the troublemaker, whereupon violence flared inside the packed bar.
A male bar-staff member who was trying to break up the fight was punched by Raper and Rudkin and suddenly a group of innocent bystanders, including a family, were forced to retreat to the pool room and were effectively “boxed into a corner” as violence raged.
Harris, from Haxby, punched a named man “several times” and struck two young women who were sisters and part of the family. Both named women suffered facial injuries and one of them suffered a bloody nose.
He also punched their father in the head in what was described as a “completely and utterly unprovoked attack”.
Another man was then repeatedly punched to the head while also being assaulted by one of the other drunken attackers.
Raper and Rudkin were eventually dragged away by door staff and the “major disturbance” finally came to an end.
“The bar was full of people,” said Mr Ward.
“Police arrived shortly afterwards (but) the defendants had left.”
However, the brawl was captured on CCTV and video footage of the incident was circulated on social media which ultimately led to the three men being identified and arrested. They were each charged with affray.
The three defendants, who are work colleagues, appeared for sentence yesterday (Thursday 10 November) after they each pleaded guilty to the offence which occurred on 21 November last year.
Mr Ward said one of the sisters suffered a bloody nose which was “sore for a week”. The other sister suffered bruising to the mouth and a lump on her lip. Her father suffered a shoulder injury.
A young man who was attacked in the pool room suffered soreness to the head and a male bar-staff member suffered bruising to the face, dizziness and possible concussion. Raper had aimed a head-butt at him, but it wasn’t clear whether the blow landed.
Hysterical and terrified
Another young man who was attacked by Raper and Rudkin suffered a four-inch graze to the head, a swollen temple and facial scratches.
Mr Ward said the named victim “didn’t do anything to anyone” apart from trying to restrain one of the men involved in the fight, which he described as “serious and sustained violence (which caused) serious fear and distress”.
“There are women crying,” he added.
“The people in that pool room are utterly boxed in. The initial attack on (a named man) was completely unprovoked and (the victims) are backed into a corner.”
He said the two sisters were “completely hysterical, terrified” and were being shielded by the men in their group.
The court heard that Harris, of Old Orchard, Haxby, had four previous convictions for offences including theft and public disorder but they were of some age.
Raper, of West Avenue, Easingwold, had two previous convictions for drink-driving and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
Rudkin, of Westfield Grove, Wiggington, had a hitherto clean slate.
Barrister David Hewitt, representing all three defendants, said they were all hard-working family men who were wracked with remorse.
He said that none of the three men was involved in the original disturbance and one of them was “walking around with a gash to the side of his head”, adding: “It’s chaos and it’s in that chaos that innocent people are hurt.”
Judge Sean Morris expressed incredulity that three “hard-working, middle-aged men” could be capable of such gratuitous violence.
He told them: “To see three mature, hard-working, middle-aged men like you in the Crown Court facing sentence for a punch-up…is ridiculous.
“You behaved disgracefully. You have brought shame on yourselves and your families. You had all been drinking – it’s just unbelievable.
“(The violence) went on and on and on, and people were terrified, but you are not going to do it again. It’s quite clear that all three of you are utterly ashamed and remorseful.”
The judge said they were easily imprisonable offences, but because they were ordinarily decent men with “very impressive” character references, he could suspend the inevitable jail sentence.
All three men were given a 12-month suspended prison sentence and were each ordered to carry out 300 hours’ unpaid work. They were each ordered to pay £100 compensation to each of the seven victims, along with £545 prosecution costs.