Father-of-three avoids prison term after dance scuffle with his boss in Frodsham pub

Reporter:

Steve Creswell

A FATHER of three has avoided an immediate prison sentence following a scuffle with his boss on a night out in Frodsham.

Christopher James Taggart, 29, admitted he was holding a glass during the dance floor face-off at the Cholmondely Arms pub on February 19 this year, but stressed there was no intent to use it.

The fracas occurred after he had spotted Alan Billinge – who he now works for as a labourer on the Runcorn bridge project – dancing close to his wife.

Chester Magistrates Court heard yesterday that Taggart pushed Mr Billinge two or three times before the victim retaliated with several punches.

Mr Billinge ended up on the floor at which point Taggart is seen to bring his hand with the glass down towards his boss.

Liam Ferris, defending, said Taggart suffered with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after he was stabbed in a bar four years ago and panicked as the pub confrontation escalated.

“I'm pretty sure if he hadn't been assaulted and stabbed some years ago then his response on the night would have been very different,” Mr Ferris told the court.

Taggart pleaded guilty to using threatening behaviour with intent to cause fear of violence and was sentenced to 12 weeks in custody, suspended for 12 months.

Magistrates accepted that he and Mr Billinge had quickly made up after the altercation, and the victim had not wished to press any charges.

Kate Marchuk, prosecuting, said both men had been drinking when the incident occurred at the Church Street pub.

Describing CCTV footage from the night, she said: “Mr Billinge appears to be dancing in close proximity to Mr Taggart's wife. Mr Taggart appears to look towards Mr Billinge, approaches him and pushes him two to three times.

“Mr Billinge responds to this by three punches to Mr Taggart, to the head. There is a scuffle and Mr Billinge is pushed to the floor. Mr Taggart raises his right arm, with his glass in his right hand, and brings it down towards Mr Billinge.”

Mr Billinge's head was seen to be bleeding, but he later claimed this was down to an accident in the toilets.

In his police interview, Taggart said he couldn't remember having the glass in his hand and his actions were “instinctive and accidental”.

Mr Ferris stressed that other people on the dance floor were holding glasses and there was no premeditation or intent to cause serious harm from his client.

“He responded badly to a situation where force was used against him,” the solicitor said. “Four years ago Mr Taggart was violently assaulted in a pub during a fight that didn't initially involve him. He ended up being stabbed and it was felt that he may lose his life. He suffers from PTSD as a result of that incident.”

Taggart, of Caesars Close, Runcorn, has been out of trouble since a conviction in 2010 for assault.

He is now a “different character” who looks after his sick mum and has a wife and three children, Mr Ferris said.

Besides the suspended prison sentence the defendant was also ordered to pay court costs of £150 and a victim surcharge of £115.

Email:

steve.creswell@nwn.co.uk

See full story in the Chester Leader

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