Chester couple attacked by race-goer in city pizza shop

Reporter:

Steve Creswell

THE boss of an estate agency attacked a married couple in a Chester takeaway after a boozy day at the races.

Neil William Ellis, 45, admitted assaulting Darren and Lindsey Gasson at the Upper Crust Pizzeria on Foregate Street on August 27 and was jailed for 12 months.

Chester Crown Court heard yesterday that the shocked couple had only just moved to the city and had been enjoying a night out.

CCTV footage showed father-of-two Ellis launch an unprovoked attack on Mr Gasson, a former soldier, at about 1.45am in the fast-food outlet.

Following a scuffle Mrs Gasson was punched to the face and her husband was punched four times in the face while he was on the floor. Ellis then launched a kick at his head.

Ellis pleaded guilty to one count of assault causing actual bodily harm and one of assault by beating.

Defence barrister Nick Cockrell argued Ellis had no previous convictions and was a well-respected family man and estate agent, citing a number of glowing character references.

But Judge Simon Berkson said only a sentence of immediate custody would reflect the seriousness of the offence.

“You were a man possessed who only wished to cause injury to these people,” the judge told Ellis.

“There were times when you could have walked or run away from the scene but you made a clear decision to stay.

“When Mr Gasson was on his hands and knees, injured, you punched him forcibly to the face on four occasions.

“At the end of the incident you ran up and kicked Mr Gasson to the face.”

Mr Gasson was treated for a broken nose and bruises and cuts to his face. He also suffered a broken leg, although the defendant was not said to be directly responsible for this injury.

His wife sustained a cut lip when Ellis punched her in the face.

In a victim impact statement that she read to the court, Mrs Gasson said she had moved from the West Country to Chester with her husband just weeks before the incident.

“It was meant to be a fresh start but we were met with violence which has affected us both,” she said.

The assault had given her sleepless nights and had affected both her job and her relationship with her husband. The couple also had to cancel a holiday as a result of stress and anxiety.

In his own statement, read to the court by prosecutor Jo Maxwell, Mr Gasson echoed his wife's words.

“It upsets me that that she had to see me on the floor being beaten up,” he said.

Outlining the case, Miss Maxwell said the couple had gone out for a meal in the city before having a few drinks and deciding to get a late-night snack before they returned home.

Ellis, of Banks Road, Southport, Merseyside, had been at Chester Races with two cousins, who were visiting from America, when they too decided to visit Upper Crust.

The five entered into a conversation before Ellis launched an unprovoked and “vicious” punch towards Mr Gasson, who then retaliated.

Mr Cockrell, defending, said Ellis had made full admissions in police interview and pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.

The victim of a violent attack at the age of 18, he was said to suffer with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“He has searched long and hard for some answers as to why, completely out of the blue at the age of 45, he found himself in that position and reacting in that way,” Mr Cockrell said. “If he could turn back time this would never have happened.”

Ellis, who runs an estate agency with his wife in Southport, will spend half of his prison sentence in custody and half on licence.

Email:

steve.creswell@nwn.co.uk

See full story in the Chester Leader

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