Brawlers spared jail

THREE men involved in a mass brawl in Felixstowe are walking free today after narrowly avoiding a prison sentence.


THREE men involved in a mass brawl in Felixstowe are walking free today after narrowly avoiding a prison sentence.

Ipswich Crown Court heard how cousins Andrew Ward, of Valley Walk, Felixstowe and James Ward, of Gayfer Avenue, Kesgrave, along with Neil Dugdale, of Cornwall Road, Felixstowe, were among more than 20 men and women involved in a fight with eight Lithuanians on April 16 last year.

The trio all pleaded guilty to committing violent disorder and were given suspended sentences at Ipswich Crown Court yesterday .

The court heard how there had been tension brewing between a group of young people and a group of Lithuanians. Later that day, the Lithuanian men, armed with metal poles, confronted the mob, which had gathered outside their Holland Road home.

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Neil Macaulay, prosecuting, said punches were exchanged, and missiles, including bricks were thrown during the brawl.

Mr Macaulay said Andrew Ward, 19, was shouting at the group, saying 'I'm going to shoot you”.

James Ward, 22, was also identified by police as one of the main participants. In their interviews with police, they said the Lithuanians were looking for a fight and had pushed and bitten them.

Mitigating for Dugdale, Russell Butcher, said his defendant was susceptible to peer pressure and urged the judge to consider the limited part he played in the fight.

Andrew Ward's lawyer, Richard Kelly, said despite his client's previous problems with drinks and drugs, he turned his life around after a spell in prison and has now been accepted to do a mechanics course at college.

Mr Kelly said: “He knows his chaotic lifestyle in the past has led to trouble. He knows this will be his last chance.”

Christine Hayes, mitigating for James Ward, claimed he only became involved in the incident when he was attacked first. She added that both he and his partner are suffering from the loss of a child.

She said: “His girlfriend became depressed to the point that she attempted to take her own life. She was found in time and is now receiving treatment from hospital.

“He has had the tragedy of losing his child and also has concerns about his girlfriend's suicide attempt. I would ask to suspend any sentence, bearing in mind that he is helping his girlfriend through her difficulties.”

The three men looked visibly relieved when Judge David Goodin revealed he was to suspend their prison sentences.

Judge Goodin said: “This was a disgraceful incident. I suspect that for most of you, it was activated, at least in part, by some resentment towards the small group of Lithuanian nationals.

“It was an ugly, violent incident, which was terrifying for the law-abiding citizens of Felixstowe.”

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Dugdale was given a sentence of 16 weeks imprisonment, which was suspended for a year. He was ordered to carry out 60 hours of unpaid work, given a supervision order for 12 months and required to attend an offender behaviour programme.

Both Andrew and James Ward were both sentenced to 26 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to do 120 hours of unpaid work.

Andrew Ward was given a supervision order for two years, and James Ward was given a supervision order for a year.

The judge said [to Andrew Ward]: “Your part and your cousin's was more significant than that by Dugdale.

“You played a more ugly, prolonged part in this.

“What has saved you is your appalling record, and the fact that after you committed this offence, you went to custody for another offence. The effect this has on a very young man is not something I can ignore, although I was very tempted to.”