Exmouth man jailed after ‘disgraceful’ drunken attack

A Brixington man who battered two men unconscious following a drunken night out in Exmouth has been jailed for nine months.

Michael Jame Mounternay Hirst, 20, of Fraser Road, admitted committing grievous bodily harm, assault and affray against a group of men walking through The Strand in the early hours of August 22 2010.

Hirst was ordered to spend nine months at a young offenders institute for his part in the fight, where three men were injured in an unprovoked attack led by the defendant.

Exeter Crown Court heard how during the attack Craig Grigg, 25, was punched and kicked unconscious.

Leigh Begam, 27, required internal and external stitches to his lip when acting as peacekeeper he was punched to the floor, kicked while unconscious, and left to lie in a pool of his own blood.

Alan Walton, 30, required stitches to his eye and suffered facial injuries and bruising after he tried to rescue Mr Begam.

In sentencing Hirst for nine months on each count of the indictment, to run concurrently, for a ‘disgraceful episode of public disorder’ Recorder AHR Maitland said: “I hope that Exmouth will be able to have some peace if this sentence goes home to your friends.

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“If this behaviour continues among your friends, they can expect the same.”

Mr Began was injured as he tried in vain to defuse an argument of ‘throw away comments’ between his friends and a group of men which included Hirst.

The judge told the court Hirst’s friend Louis Jeans, 19, of Holland Road, Exmouth, had triggered the attack after saying ‘what are you looking at’, prompting the defendent to begin shouting and swearing, before throwing the first punch.

Exeter Crown Court last week bound Jeans over to keep the peace after his trial collapsed half way through when the prosecution offered no evidence.

Jeans had denied assaulting Alan Walton and also pleaded not guilty to a second charge of affray and threatening unlawful violence towards others.

The court heard how Hirst had originally denied the offences, claiming he had acted in self defence.

Mr Maitland said Hirst was of previous good character and hoped the offence was an isolated incident.

He was told Hirst now ‘unequivocally’ accepted his behaviour.

The judge said: “This offence was started after kicking out time from a local club.

“The victims have had a continuing affect on their own personal enjoyment of life as a result of the assault which you were leading.

“Two of the victims were on the ground and defenceless. Later you showed genuine remorse.”

The defendant’s mother, Deborah Mitchell, said her son had turned his life around since the attack.

She told the court how she had been involved in a ‘messy’ divorce at the time the offences were committed.

Hirst, then aged 19, his two brothers, 17 and 14, and mother were forced to share one bedroom, putting the family under extreme pressure.

She said since the attack her son had quit binge drinking, avoided nights out in Exmouth, gained NVQ qualifications and hoped to pursue a career as an electrician.

She also said his university student girlfriend had been a calming and positive influence on her son, promising to stand by him.

Ms Mitchell it was an ‘unfair assessment’ when it was put that her son had failed to grasp the gravity or seriousness of his behaviour.

She said: “It’s a one-off very bad mistake he’s made. He’s never shown any violence in public before.

“He has been remorseful for the past 12 months. There hasn’t been a day when he’s not mentioned it and wished it never occurred.”