A MAN who was involved in a fight in the street outside a nightclub in which another man’s jaw was broken has been cleared of causing the injury.
A jury at Warwick Crown Court took just 39 minutes to find Robert Gray, from Ullenhall, near Solihull, not guilty of inflicting grievous bodily harm, which he had denied.
But they found him guilty of an alternative offence of common assault after seeing a CCTV recording of the incident outside the Caz Bar night club in Union Street, Stratford.
Gray (30) of Ramshill Road, Ullenhall, was fined £300 for his ‘disgraceful’ behaviour and ordered to pay £125 costs.
During the trial prosecutor Stuart Clarkson said that in April last year Thomas Partridge went out with friends in Stratford town centre, ending up at the Caz Bar.
Gray was also there with some friends, and when they were later asked how drunk they were on a scale of 1-10, Mr Partridge put his level of drunkenness at nine, and Gray put his at eight.
“Mr Partridge and, to a lesser extent, Mr Gray cannot remember a whole lot about what happened,” said Mr Clarkson.
“We do know Mr Partridge was hit, firstly because someone who was there when it happened can say there was an argument outside the Caz Bar, and he remembered the defendant striking out at Mr Partridge.
“But secondly, there is also CCTV which does show us what happened.”
Mr Clarkson said the recording showed two groups of men arguing outside the night club, with some pushing and shoving.
“In due course you can see this defendant strike out at Mr Partridge and then, a little bit later, he goes back when they are split up and wrestles him to the floor,” he alleged.
The CCTV recording was played in court, and the initial disturbance is shown from a distance, although it appears Gray does hit out, before the operator zooms in.
It then clearly shows Gray being held back as he tries to go towards Mr Partridge, who then becomes involved with another of Gray’s group, who was wearing a grey top.
They go out of view as the camera stays on Gray, and as it follows him, he dodges past other people to grab Mr Partridge round the neck from behind and wrestle him to the floor – out of sight behind a taxi.
The two groups separate, and Gray and his friends walk off along Union Street, with the man in grey punching a small bush as he walks past it.
Gray is seen ushering him away, and blocking his way as he repeatedly tries to go back towards the night club.
The police had been called, and when they arrived they spoke to Mr Partridge, who had a bloody lip, but he said he did not want to make a complaint and went home.
It was only the next morning that he realised it was more than just a bloody lip, and he went to hospital where it was found he had a butterfly fracture to his jaw.
When Gray was arrested, he said: “It wasn’t me.” But he was then shown the CCTV and accepted he had been involved.
But he maintained in court that although he had been involved in pushing and shoving, he was not responsible for the injury to Mr Partridge’s jaw.
And his barrister Elizabeth Power pointed out that the CCTV footage did not show Mr Partridge bleeding from his mouth until after the off-camera clash with the man in the grey top.
After the jury returned its verdicts, Miss Power said Gray had admitted common assault, pointing out that ‘in fact that was in his defence statement.’
Told by Recorder Anthony Lowe that he was not considering a prison sentence, Miss Power said Gray lives with his parents and has got his own business, earning about £500 a month after tax.
Recorder Lowe told Gray: “Once you saw the CCTV you have always accepted what you did, and the jury have found you not guilty of the more serious offence of causing the fractured jaw.
“We saw what you did, and you yourself recognise what you did was disgraceful.
“We see it time and time again, people getting drunk and behaving in this way in the streets of our towns up and down this country – and you have added to that problem.”