A PUB landlord has been found guilty of assault after head-butting a young woman.
Kevin Fletcher, who runs the Alnwick Gate on Clayport Street in the town, was convicted of the offence at South East Northumberland Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday after previously pleading not guilty.
He was fined £200 for the incident and ordered to pay £150 compensation to his victim, Laura Millar, who was left with a cut to the bridge of her nose, swelling and black eyes after the attack in the early hours of June 5 last year.
The court heard that Miss Millar had been out drinking with friends and called at Pizza Royale, next door to the Gate pub, just after 1am.
She said she thought her uncle was inside the pub and knocked on the door asking to speak to him but was met by Fletcher’s wife, Susan.
“I asked if my uncle was in there or if he had left with his friend,” she said.
“But she came back with a massive attitude.”
Magistrates heard there was an argument between the two women before Miss Millar’s uncle appeared, followed by Fletcher.
Miss Millar added: “Kevin popped his head round the door and I had to look up to see him. In a matter of seconds he stepped out the pub and head-butted us. I heard a massive crack, which was my nose, and staggered back and he went back inside.”
PC Ashby told the court he had seen the assault from his patrol car 150 feet away, to which Miss Millar had gone after the assault.
He said her face was ‘pouring with blood.’ Police then went to the pub to arrest Fletcher.
Miss Millar’s friend Lauren Bremner, who had been out on the night in question, but was driving, backed up her friend’s evidence while PC Bone said there had been a ‘coming together of bodies’ but said he saw the young woman stagger back.
Dick Stirland, defending, said Miss Millar was drunk and her recollection could have been tainted.
He added that she was ‘aggressive’ towards Fletcher, of Lindisfarne Road, Alnwick, and the pair had clashed heads.
Fletcher told the court he had been celebrating his 50th birthday that night in a private function at the back of the pub.
He said he had seen his wife crying and was told that she had been given a ‘load of abuse’ by Miss Millar.
When he went outside he swore at her to go away but she gave him ‘verbal abuse’.
“She was arguing away and we banged heads,” he said.
“I didn’t do anything at all to her, we were just arguing.”
But in cross-examination, prosecutor Jonathan Moore said that in his police statement Fletcher had described it as a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction and said ‘it wasn’t intentional, it was spur-of-the-moment’.
Mr Moore said: “The prosecution case is that this was a deliberate incident. Mr Fletcher came out of the premises, spoke to Laura Millar and deliberately head-butted her.
“He says it was a clashing of heads, but the injured party had blood pouring from her nose.”
Mr Stirland said there were inconsistencies in the prosecution case and said it was not a deliberate act.
Chairman of the bench George Robson said: “After great and lengthy discussion we find you guilty of this incident. We think you did deliberately head-butt her and find it impossible to believe, from the injuries that were sustained, that it was an accidental clashing of heads.”
As well as the fine and compensation, Fletcher was ordered to pay £450 costs and a £25 victim surcharge.