Pub talk ended in violence

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A PUB debate about the war in Afghanistan descended into violence, a court has heard, after a man was accused of being a ‘Muslim lover’ by a group of drinkers.

Security expert Darryl Weidner joined in a conversation at the Waterloo public house in Amble on August 2 last year, only to be met with a torrent of abuse when he mentioned his work in the war-torn country.

As the 59-year-old made his apologies and left the bar, he was followed and punched once in the back of the head by Thomas Andrew Fee, causing him to fall out the door and down some stairs, landing on the pavement outside.

He suffered a large bump to the back of the head which was bleeding, as well as a bleeding nose.

Appearing before Alnwick Magistrates Court on Monday, 53-year-old postal worker Fee, of Henderson Street, Amble, pleaded not guilty to assaulting Mr Weidner, claiming he had been hit by the door as he exited.

But two witnesses both gave evidence that they saw Fee deliver the blow.

Prosecutor Sarah O’Neill said: “The group were talking loudly about the war in Afghanistan, Islam and immigration and Mr Weidner went across to join in the conversation. An argument developed and they became insulting towards him, calling him a Muslim lover, saying he was unpatriotic and had a bias towards Muslims.”

Witness Alan Traynor, who had just arrived at the Waterloo with his girlfriend Susan Coulson, said he became aware of an argument near the door, where the group of men were sitting.

He said: “Darryl said he had outstayed his welcome and went to open the door to leave. The accused got up and struck him. There was no reason for it at all – it made me feel quite shocked.”

Ms Coulson told how Mr Weidner was standing facing the group with his hands up and palms outstretched before turning to leave.

She added: “He was punched in the back of the head, at the base of the skull. I heard the crack.”

But Fee – who admitted drinking around eight pints of beer – said: “He [Mr Weidner] came up and chucked some cards on the table. There was something said about pacifists and some bawling and shouting. I said to him get out, because you’re causing trouble here, and opened the door for him. I did not hit him.”

Defence witness Kenneth Carruthers, who was drinking with Fee, said: “He [Mr Weidner] asked me if I was ex-Services and I said no, then he mentioned something about terrorism. He started giving cards out and was on about having to understand terrorism.

“It came to a point where people had enough and were getting irate because he wouldn’t leave it. Tommy stood up and told him to leave then opened the door for him. I didn’t see any punch.”

After considering the evidence, the magistrates found Fee guilty of assaulting Mr Weidner.

He was fined £550 and ordered to pay £150 costs, plus a £15 victim surcharge.

The court heard that Mr Weidner had since died of unrelated causes.