Bare-chested birthday street brawl landed friends in court

A bare-chested birthday bust-up in the street landed two friends in court.

Thursday, 17th October 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 17th October 2019, 7:00 am
The case was heard at South Tyneside Magistrates' Court.

James Balderson, from Sunderland, and Paul Robert Laidlaw, 32, from Bruce Kirkup Road, Horden, appeared before South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court charged with threatening behaviour.

The pals both pleaded guilty to the charge, which arose from a fall-out in Sunderland’s Thorne Square, where Balderson lives, on September 22.

Balderson also admitted a charge of possession of cocaine, which was found on him the same night.

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Balderson, 29, also admitted to driving whilst disqualified and driving without insurance on September 17.

Glenda Beck, prosecuting, said police were called to the street following reports of two men fighting bare-chested in the street.

The pair were separated and Balderson was taken back to his address.

She said: “As the officers were talking to Mr Laidlaw, a female walked past and he started shouting at her.”

Ms Beck said a police officer said of Balderson: “He was very irate and told her Mr Laidlaw had made a remark about his girlfriend’s glasses and he had tried to stick up for her and Mr Laidlaw had assaulted him.”

She said the police officer then followed Balderson into the garden and he started acting in an aggressive manner and ran towards Laidlaw and an officer had to stop him and both men were arrested.

Paul McAlindon, representing Laidlaw, said: “Mr Laidlaw says that he and Mr Balderson are in fact friends. They had been in Mr Balderson’s house and alcohol had been consumed.

“During the course of the evening a remark was made and Mr Balderson took it the wrong way and that has led to an argument and them coming to blows.”

He said: “He attended court today and pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.”

John Griffiths, defending Balderson, said: “They are both good friends and they had too much to drink. A row escalated and that got out of hand.”

A spokesman for the probation service said Balderson told him it was his birthday and they had been drinking. He said he rarely uses cocaine and had it because it was his birthday.

Laidlaw was fined £120 and ordered to pay £85 costs and a £32 victim surcharge. Balderson was give a 12-month community order with 200 hours unpaid work, banned from driving for a total of 16 months and ordered to pay £85 costs and a £90 victim surcharge.