Young man left haunted by vicious attack by three of his mates in Chester


Steve Creswell

A YOUNG man was “haunted” by memories of a night in Chester when he was viciously attacked by three of his mates, a court heard.

George Whitfield was left with a fractured jaw, cheekbone and eye socket after the incident which began outside the Urbano 32 restaurant on Bridge Street and ended at the railway station.

Lewis Gardner, 22, Joe Pugh, 26, and Aaron Pinches, 23, all admitted assault charges but were spared an immediate jail sentence by Judge Simon Berkson at Chester Crown Court yesterday.

The group, who live in Shrewsbury, had travelled to the city to celebrate a friend's birthday on January 24, 2015, and most knew each other from their school days.

In a victim impact statement read to the court by prosecutor James Coutts, Mr Whitfield said he had been “physically and emotionally scarred” by the ordeal.

One doctor said his injuries were more consistent with a car crash and, despite undergoing two operations, he had still been left with permanent scarring.

“I'm constantly haunted by the events of January 24, 2015,” Mr Whitfield said. “It sickens me that they could inflict such horrible injuries on me in such an unprovoked attack.”

The court heard the group had been drinking and Mr Whitfield was “messing around with fruit from his drink” and began throwing it around the Urbano 32 restaurant and bar.

He was asked to leave and Pinches made it clear he was “not impressed” with the complainant’s conduct.

Mr Whitfield went outside but soon returned and saw the three defendants staring at him before a confrontation took place.

Gardner threw a punch that floored the victim before Pugh and Pinches began raining punches and kicks down on him.

The bar manager described it as “some of the most serious violence she had ever seen”, Mr Coutts told the court.

Soon after the group made their way to the station, after which Pinches swung a punch at Mr Whitfield's head. Knowing he had suffered serious injuries, the victim later took himself to hospital and underwent surgery on January 30, having metalplates inserted into his face.

The court heard both Gardner and Pinches had previous convictions for football violence in 2013, while Pugh had a caution for displaying material stirring up racial hatred in the same year.

Amy Edinborough, defending Gardner, said he was now a father and had undergone a “shift in attitudes” in the two years since the offence. A scaffolder by trade, he had become an amateur boxer and volunteered at his local club.

Oliver King, for Pugh, said his client had “put this drunken, loutish behaviour behind him”, and was now focused on his life and job.

Simon Parry, for Pinches, stressed the incident would not have happened if Mr Whitfield had not been acting in an “obnoxious” manner in the restaurant.

A county and Welsh Premier League football player, Pinches is a “hard working young man” who had “turned his life around and learnt his lesson”, Mr Parry said.

Gardner, of Cadfael Way, Shrewsbury, pleaded guilty to assault causing actual bodily harm (ABH) and was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for two years, with a supervision order and six month curfew. He must pay the victim £250 in compensation.

Pugh, of Huffley Lane, Shrewsbury, pleaded guilty to common assault and was given three months, suspended for two years. He must also carry out 100 hours of unpaid work, pay £250 compensation and abide by a six-month curfew.

Pinches, of Radbrook Hall Court, Shrewsbury, pleaded guilty to common assault and ABH and was sentenced to 11 months in prison, suspended for two years. He must do 250 hours of unpaid work, pay £500 in compensation, and stick to a six-month curfew.

All three were made the subject of a restraining order banning them from contacting or approaching Mr Whitfield for 10 years.

See full story in the Chester Leader

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