Police hunt Hartlepool man allegedly involved in brawl that saw man glassed with champagne flute at swanky hall

Durham Crown Court
Durham Crown Court

POLICE are hunting a man allegedly involved in a brawl that saw an innocent bystander glassed in the neck with a champagne flute at an exclusive festival.

Durham Police are trying to find out the whereabouts of Hartlepool man John Charles Mullen, 47, in connection with a fight following the £160-a-head Lobster Festival, at Hardwick Hall, in Sedgefield.

Dwane Douglas

Dwane Douglas

Neil Parsons, who owns Loos4Hire, was at the event after delivering portaloos and needed 167 stitches on a neck wound after he was slashed with a broken champagne flute having stepped in to help.

A spokeswoman for Durham Police said: “We are actively seeking the whereabouts of John Charles Mullen, which at this stage is unknown.

“Anyone with information regarding his location should call 101 and ask to speak to DS Neil Jones.”

The spokeswoman said Mullen – believed to have fled abroad since the incident – has never spoken to police and is wanted in connection with the assault on Mr Parsons.

The manhunt was revealed yesterday after three men, including two from Hartlepool, were sentenced at Durham Crown Court after admitting their part in the “melee”.

The court heard that neither town men David Garside, 29, nor Dwane Douglas, 48, were directly responsible for the stabbing, but both admitted affray.

A third man involved, Stuart Bell, 48, from County Durham, admitted a lesser public order offence.

Both town men avoided immediate jail terms after the judge, Recorder Ian Atherton, heard about both of their charity work.

This was despite Garside being in breach of a licence of a 30-month jail term he received in 2010 for violent disorder at the time of this offence.

Prosecutor Shaun Dodds said on April 27, 2012, a lobster festival was held in a marquee at the hotel, from 11am-6pm, before some of the guests continued drinking at the hotel reception.

He said around 6.50pm, an altercation broke out between Bell and another man, where Bell was headbutted.

The court heard a large-scale fight broke out, which saw furniture thrown around and Mr Parsons being “attacked with a broken champagne glass in a very cowardly way”.

Mr Dodds said Mr Parsons had tried to separate Bell and the other man, but others thought he was trying to help Bell, even though he was only there to provide the toilets.

“The assailant is yet to be brought to justice,” he said.

“He and a relative fled abroad but when they are brought back to this country they will face trial for this assault.”

The court heard Douglas “pushed and shoved” and followed a peacemaker down a corridor before “raining down blows on him”.

The court was told that Garside picked up an ornamental lampstand and thrust it towards the scuffle although a doorman took it off him before it connected with anyone.

Jonathan Devlin, for Douglas, and Christopher Stables, representing Garside, said neither of their clients were responsible for the stabbing and weren’t present when it happened.

Robert Spraggatt, representing Bell, said his client acted in self-defence after being headbutted and kicked out to avoid being struck with a broken champagne glass before picking up the lampshade.

Recorder Atherton said Douglas and Garside’s “part in this was to come late to the fight”.

Douglas, of Sitwell Walk, was sentenced to six months in prison suspended for 12 months and made to do 150 hours unpaid work.

Garside, of The Oval, was sentenced to four months jail suspended for 12 months, fined £500 and ordered to carry out 100 hours unpaid work.

Bell, of The Front, Burnhope, County Durham, was given a two-year conditional discharge.

All must pay £750 costs each.

Leon Morfitt, 31, of Owton Manor Lane, Hartlepool, stood trial in January in connection with the incident after denying affray, but a jury failed to reach a verdict.

The Crown Prosecution Service did not seek a retrial for Mr Morfitt.