A MAN was punched unconscious and suffered a broken leg after he complained about customers taking drugs in the toilets at his local pub.
Ronald Hyde told Kenneth Ford there was no place for such actions when he caught him taking cocaine with a pal in a cubicle in the Jester pub.
Ford’s response to Mr Hyde’s comment that he did not want his wife exposed to such behaviour was to lash out with his fist, sending the rig worker crashing to the ground and knocking him unconscious.
The attack sparked an outbreak of trouble at the pub, in Tasmania Road, South Shields, and Mr Hyde’s leg was left badly broken by the ensuing violence.
Ford and two other men involved in the brawl were spared jail.
Emma Dowling, prosecuting, told Newcastle Crown Court: “Mr Hyde went to the toilets in the premises. When he went in, he could see two males in a cubicle with the door open.
“He suspected they were using drugs and turned around and spoke to them. He challenged them about it.
“He said it was a pub he had frequented for 30 years, and he took exception to the fact that two men were taking illegal drugs in the toilet.
“He said ‘come on, lads. It’s not the place to do that. My wife is out there’.
“The defendant punched him to the face.”
The court heard the forceful blow left Mr Hyde unconscious on the floor.
When drinkers realised the popular regular was lying in a pool of blood, the pub erupted in violence.
The court heard that Mr Hyde’s nephew Jonathan Gowland attacked Ford with a bar stool and pool cue while his pal Lee Manson punched and kicked out.
Miss Dowling said: “Some members of the public were actively joining in. Others were on the phone trying to contact the police. It did cause a significant disturbance.”
Ford, 34, of Austin Avenue, Biddick Hall, South Shields, pleaded guilty to assault.
Gowland, 24, of Finchale Terrace, Jarrow, and Manson, 29, of Inverness Road, also in Jarrow, admitted affray.
All three were given nine-month jail sentences suspended for two years, with 150 hours’ unpaid work and £300 costs.
Recorder Deborah Sherwin told them: “I have no doubt, but for the fact you had all consumed alcohol, none of this, or certainly most of this, would not have happened.
“Mr Hyde, as was his right, remonstrated with Ford about taking cocaine, saying his wife was in the pub. He was then punched in the face and knocked out.
“He remained unconscious for a considerable time, until in the ambulance. Word got out. People believed he was seriously injured, even worse than he was, and people sought to exact revenge.”
The judge said the female bar staff acted with “some bravery” in their attempts to stop the trouble in January last year. Stephen Duffield, defending, said it was Ford who knocked Mr Hyde unconscious but he did not break his leg.
Mr Duffield said: “He is deeply ashamed of what he did that night. It is plain that this is highly out of character
“He accepts that, at the time, he was, stupidly, occasionally taking cocaine and was drinking too much.
“He now drinks much more responsibly and does not use cocaine at all.”
Amanda Rippon, defending Gowland, said the nephew had seen his uncle lying on the pub’s floor in a pool of blood and lost his temper.
Miss Rippon said: “He became utterly distraught and lost all control.
“He is deeply, deeply ashamed.”
Peter Schofield, defending, said Manson also lost his temper after seeing the injured man, adding: “Trouble wasn’t looked for on his part.”