THREE thugs who attacked a doorman after a row over an unfinished £50 bottle of champagne have avoided instant jail.
James Watson, a doorman at The Showroom in Hartlepool, was punched and kicked while on the ground after asking Kyle Redfearn, Daniel Weegram and Mark Humphrey to leave the Victoria Road hotspot.
Mr Watson had been called to the venue’s toilets where he asked Humphrey and Redfearn to empty their pockets, a court heard.
Despite nothing untoward being found, they were asked to leave.
But Teesside Crown Court was told the pair refused and did so again after rejoining their friends in the bar.
This led to a scuffle which spilled out through a fire exit on to the street and involved Redfearn, Humphrey and Weegram attacking Mr Watson.
Mr Watson, who suffered reddening around the eye in the attack, did not turn up on the day of the trio’s trial last month.
They were due to deny assault occasioning actual bodily harm but entered a last-minute guilty plea to affray on May 20, 2010, on the basis of “self-defence gone too far”.
Redfearn, 21 today, of Colliers Yard, Ferryhill, who has two previous offences of public order on his record, claimed Mr Watson threw the first punch.
Weegram, 25, of Belmont Gardens, Hartlepool, who has a conviction for racially-aggravated assault which took place in a nightclub, accepted he hit Mr Watson “once or twice”.
Humphrey, 24, of Howden Road, Hartlepool, who has an arson conviction, pleaded guilty on the basis of joint enterprise in that he went to the aid of his two friends.
Barristers said that although police officers’ evidence said a man was being punched and kicked repeatedly, this was just a snapshot of what had gone on.
Scott Smith, for Redfearn, said: “This is not a group of lads going out looking for trouble or causing any trouble initially, they are lads who lacked a little judgement.”
Weegram’s barrister Richard Capsey said his client, in the main, is a “sober character” who only drinks four or five times a year due to his work on the oil rigs in Norway.
Ian Bradshaw, for Humphrey, said: “This sort of conduct on licensed premises spilling onto the street is not acceptable.
“If Your Honour feels that custody is inevitable then I ask you to consider, under the circumstances, a suspended sentence.”
Prosecutor Sam Foulkes said: “It was said Redfearn had just bought a bottle of champagne for his birthday and rather than leaving, Redfearn and Humphrey rejoined their friends and refused to leave.
“That is where the incident escalated.”
Recorder James Sandiford sentenced all three men to nine months’ custody, suspended for 18 months.
Redfearn and Weegram must carry out 150 hours unpaid work and Humphrey must do 120 hours with supervision.
Judge Sandiford told the men: “This took place in or outside public premises where many people were present.
“He was a doorman and in employment in public service and therefore deserves protection of the court.”