Uncle and nephew avoid jail for 'bar brawl' at hotel

The Pentahotel in Ranelagh Road, Ipswich. Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

Pentahotel in Ranelagh Road, Ipswich - Credit: Google Maps

A 49-year-old man and his nephew have avoided going straight to jail over a 'barroom brawl' at an Ipswich hotel.

Andrew Witten and his 24-year-old nephew, Jake McKenna, appeared at Ipswich Crown Court on Wednesday to face sentencing for the Pentahotel disturbance.

Witten had earlier pleaded guilty to affray, battery and assaulting a police officer, while McKenna admitted affray in relation to the same incident.

A third man, Harry Marney, was acquitted following a trial earlier this month.

According to prosecutor Michael Harrison, the brawl began after Witten was refused further service due to his level of intoxication in the early hours of November 24, 2018.

Witten, of Charsley Close, Amersham, and McKenna, of Lily’s Walk, High Wycombe, were eventually allowed to continue playing pool in the lounge area, where they asked two other customers – both doormen from Ipswich's Sin Bar –  to buy drinks on their behalf.

When the doormen refused, Witten became aggressive, grabbing at the jacket of Sin Bar owner Shabbir Khan, who was also present, before snapping a pool cue in half and breaking it across doorman Brett Crittenden's head.

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Mr Harrison said McKenna then began throwing punches as the scene descended into a "barroom brawl", with both men kicking Mr Crittenden as he lay on the floor.

When police arrived at 4.06am, Witten was still throwing punches and had to be tackled to the floor, where he kicked out and connected his shin with an officer's head. 

Darren Almeida, mitigating, said both men had since turned their lives around, with Witten seeking help for substance misuse and McKenna attending anger management sessions.

He said both were currently out of work but seeking employment in the construction industry.

Judge Emma Peters called the incident a "prolonged, sustained, and frightening period of violence".

Judge Peters said Witten and McKenna's claim they had reacted to being called 'gypsies' during the disturbance was no excuse.

Witten was handed a 17-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, with 180 hours of unpaid work, a four-month curfew and up to 20 days of rehabilitation activity requirement. He must pay Mr Crittenden £300 and the officer £100 in compensation.

McKenna received a nine-month term, suspended for 18 months, with 140 hours of unpaid work and up to 20 days of rehabilitation activity requirement. He must also pay Mr Crittenden £300.