Man jailed over fight with friend at court where he was offering moral support

CASEY BELL ... ended up in the dock after a fight with a pal outside South Tyneside Magistrates' Court.
CASEY BELL ... ended up in the dock after a fight with a pal outside South Tyneside Magistrates' Court.

A MAN offering his girlfriend moral support at a court hearing ended up in the dock himself – after a ‘farcical’ fight with a pal.

Casey Bell had attended South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court along with his partner, who was a defendant in a case being heard on the day, when he became embroiled in a verbal altercation with 19-year-old Dean Ratcliffe.

If this had happened many years ago, they may have fought with pistols or swords. To watch the footage, it is quite farcical. They were both rolling on the ground.

Kevin Smallcombe, defending

The pair brawled outside the court, with police officers already at the court stepping in to arrest both.

They spent the night in custody ahead of a return visit to the court the following day – this time with both as defendants.

Both pleaded guilty to a charge of using threatening, abusive, words or behaviour against each other when they appeared side-by-side in the custody dock.

Bell, 21, of Derby Street, Jarrow, was jailed for eight weeks – as he had only been released from prison on licence a month earlier and was also subject to a suspended sentence order.

The court heard that the feuding duo had ‘reconciled’ – and they shared a handshake when magistrates delivered their verdict.

Rehana Haque, prosecuting, said: “There was a fight between the two outside the court at 10.38am on Tuesday.

“The security officer at the court saw Casey Bell leaving the court. He thought this was suspicious as they had been there a couple of minutes.

“He monitored him on CCTV. Bell was on the grassed verge area in front of the court.

“Bell raised his fists and another male (Ratcliffe) did the same.

“They started fighting, kicking and punching each other with force.

“Police officers in court on a separate matter came out and saw Bell swinging a punch, with Ratcliffe kicking out at him.

“They were detained by the police and arrested.”

The court heard that Bell has 18 previous convictions and was subject to a suspended sentence – for an offence of aggravated vehicle-taking – and was also still on licence after being released from a 12-month jail term for charges of affray and possession of a bladed article.

Laura Johnson, defending Bell, said: “He has entered an immediate guilty plea and should be given full credit for that.

“His partner was attending court and he went along with her.

“He got in a verbal altercation with Ratcliffe, which resulted in a fight outside the court.

“The incident was captured on CCTV. Both ended up on the ground, rolling around.

“Both were arrested and taken to the police station. He is subject to a suspended sentence order and is also to be recalled on his licence for 28 days.

“The two of them were friends and are back on speaking terms after their time in custody.

Kevin Smallcombe, defending Ratcliffe, said: “He is 19 and is in a different situation, because of his lack of previous convictions.

“I have seen the video. If this had happened many years ago, they may have fought with pistols or swords.

“To watch the footage, it is quite farcical. They were both rolling on the ground and the police dealt with it efficiently.

“They have used their time in custody to reconcile.”

Malcolm Grady, chairman of the magistrates, told Bell: “We note you are subject to a suspended sentence order. We are going to activate that, but reduce it to eight weeks.”

Bell was also handed a four-week jail term for the public order offence, which will run concurrently with the eight-week prison term.

He was also ordered to pay an £80 victim surcharge and a £150 criminal court charge.

Magistrates asked for a probation report to be prepared on Ratcliffe, of no fixed abode, ahead of sentencing.

He was due to be sentenced at the court on Friday but a warrant was issued for his arrest after he failed to show up.

Twitter: @shieldsgazchris