Nursery rhyme lands five men in court

A MAN who brandished pool cues at a group of pub-goers when one of them started singing a nursery rhyme ended up being severely beaten in return, a court has heard.

Richard Hemmens, known as ‘toothless Rich’, was having a pre-Christmas drink at Shooters Sports Bar in Weston when things turned ugly.

Bristol Crown Court heard this week how the regular at the High Street watering hole panicked when five men walked into the bar saying ‘we want you and you’ and then one started to sing The Grand Old Duke Of York.

The group, including 38-year-old Alan Brindle, of Severn Road and Martin Nealon, aged 46, of George Street, Weston, are standing trial accused of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and breach of the peace over claims they were involved in beating Mr Hemmens multiple times over the head and body with the cues.

Ryan Pickles, aged 26, of North Street in Nailsea faces the same charges, while Edward Mansfield, aged 28, of Sky Park Road in Bristol and Paul Curtis, aged 27, of Moor End, Nailsea are faced with an additional charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm involving another regular, Alan Puttnam, on the same evening.

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All men deny all charges and say they were acting in self defence.

Defence solicitors also dispute they fact they shouted ‘we want you, you and you’ at regulars and that they all walked through the front entrance as a group before the incident.

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Giving evidence in court on Monday at the beginning of the trial, Mr Hemmens admitted he was ‘stupid’ in brandishing the snooker cues on December 22 last year and that he had drunk up to 12 pints before the incident.

He said: “I did a stupid thing picking up the cues. I was intending to scare them off as I thought it was going to turn nasty. I had a gut feeling about it.

“The next thing I remember is trying to get up and wood breaking on my head.”

Mr Hemmens is said to have been left with head injuries, a broken finger and an injured shoulder.

He accepted in court on Monday his behaviour had been ‘threatening’ towards the group.

Adam McNally, one of the bar staff on the night of the incident, also gave evidence, describing how the atmosphere had changed during the evening.

He added: “Toothless Rich approached a group with two pool cues, with the thick ends upwards.

“He said ‘I can’t be having this no more’, but then the cues got taken off him and used against him.

“When he got hit full on in the head I heard the impact.”

Mr McNally added in his evidence that there were two separate attacks on Mr Hemmens with the cues, one where he was hit about four times, twice to the head, then another where he was said to have been hit up to 12 times on the head and body.

The trial, which is expected to last another week, continues.

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