Sunderland schoolboys in court over brawl

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A SCHOOLBOY lay across his friend after fearing he could have been killed by a gang of teenagers outside a Sunderland school, a court heard.

The youth was giving evidence after three fellow pupils were accused of affray.

Sunderland Youth Court heard how trouble began after a dispute following a snowball fight in December last year.

The year 10 student, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told the court how he acted after seeing his friend fall to the floor during a brawl outside the school involving between 10 and 15 other pupils.

He said: “He fell over and started getting hit again with blocks of ice and they were kicking him.

“He got knocked unconscious. I thought he was dead. I lay on top of him.”

Three pals – including the teenager giving evidence and the victim – became involved after seeing a friend being set upon by the gang.

But defence solicitors Ian Cassidy and Joanne Gatens claimed the young witness was mistaken about seeing his pal being kicked before he intervened.

Mr Cassidy said: “In the statement made to police, you did not mention anyone kicking him until you were lying on top of him.”

Mrs Gatens added: “You could not have seen everything that was happening and you are really just trying to fit the gaps together.”

Prosecutor Simon Worthy told the court that a woman who witnessed the attack described it as “vicious”.

He read out her statement, who said: “In 15 years of living in the area I’ve seen some trouble, but never seen anything so vicious and horrendous. It was quite shocking.”

The trio, all aged 15, were due to stand trial but a Newton hearing – where the charge is admitted but the facts are disputed – was opened yesterday after they entered guilty pleas on a basis.

The case continues today, when a second schoolboy is expected to give evidence. <TUES>

A further nine teenagers have already admitted their parts in the incident on December 10 and are due to appear at Sunderland Youth Court on Thursday.

Follow Echo reporter Jane O’Neill on Twitter