Men fought topless in bus lane as mass brawl brought traffic to standstill and left police 'substantially outnumbered' in Sunderland city centre

Joseph Middleton

A judge has praised police who were "outnumbered" during large scale violence which brought city centre traffic to a standstill.

Officers had been called to a mass disturbance, which started in Ttonic bar, in Vine Place, Sunderland, and quickly spread into the street, with men and women fighting at random.

Mitchell Chapman

Prosecutor Neil Jones told Newcastle Crown Court passers by stopped to "spectate" the mass eruption of violence, which included men fighting, topless, in a bus lane, and police were concerned for public safety on the night last June.

Judge Robert Spragg has said the police who controlled the incident that night should be proud and that the public should be thankful to the force.

Mr Jones said the trouble had started inside the bar but had rapidly spread outside, with more and more people joining in.

He said: "There was a degree of traffic on Vine Place at the time.

Thomas Kelly

"A lot of traffic on that June evening was brought to a halt by the whole thing."

Mr Jones said when police arrived at the city centre, they were "substantially outnumbered" by the amount of people fighting.

He added: "It was, perhaps, difficult for them to focus on individual fights. Simultaneously, there were a lot of fights going on.

"A lot of people were offering violence, male and female

Lewis Chapman

"The whole spectacle was one considerably alarming to passers-by.

"The police officers felt they were anxious for the safety of the public.

"Clearly, from the evidence, alcohol had a considerable role in it all. People were staggering, both male and female."

Four men, who all admitted affray, have now been dealt with for their roles in the brawls.

The case was heard at Newcastle Crown Court

Mitchell Chapman, 22, of Pegwood Road, Sunderland, was sentenced to six months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, with programme requirements.

Joseph Middleton, 37, of Ringwood Swuare, Sunderland, was sentenced to five months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, with a three month nighttime curfew.

Lewis Chapman, 27, of Halversgate Close, Sunderland, and Thomas Kelly, 22, of Halversgate Close, Sunderland, were both given 12 month community order with three month nighttime curfews.

Judge Robert Spragg said many others who were involved in the "drunken, loutish behaviour" that night have not been brought before the courts.

The judge told them: "A number of passers-by were clearly disturbed by what they were watching and traffic was brought to a standstill by what was going on.

"I have to give significant praise to all of the police officers involved in this incident.

"It was not just you four, there were a number of other men and women behaving in a disgraceful manner."

Judge Spragg added: "It was a very difficult and volatile situation for the police to control but that they did.

"All of the officers who attended that day should be very proud of the way they controlled the incident and members of the public should be very grateful to them."

Jamie Adams, defending, Mitchell Chapman, said his client does not usually drink but had been celebrating a christening that day and finds his limited involvement, which he is remorseful for, "shameful".

Joe Hedworth, defending Middleton, said his client was "being repeatedly kicked in the head" by a female during the violence, which had "nothing to do with him".

Vic Laffey, defending Lewis Chapman, said his client played a minor role and had been shepherding people out of the way for the most part.

Jane Foley, defending Kelly, said her client also played a minor part in what happened.

The court heard none of the men have been in any trouble since and none have long criminal records.

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