Man given suspended sentence following town centre brawl

PUBLISHED: 12:30 22 January 2016


A late-night brawler kicked and punched another man after mistakenly believing he had been threatened with a knife.

Benjamin Kelly was one of three friends who fought with victim Michael McInnes during a confrontation in the centre of Exmouth, in which they claimed he had come at them with a weapon.

Building worker Kelly, 24, was seen by a passer-by repeatedly kicking Mr McInnes in the head, Exeter Crown Court was told.

He was spared a jail sentence after a judge heard how he had stayed out of trouble since the incident in August 2014.

Kelly, of St Andrews Road, Exmouth, admitted causing actual bodily harm and was jailed for eight months, suspended for two years, and ordered to do 100 hours’ unpaid community work and attend a ‘thinking skills’ programme by Judge Francis Gilbert, QC.

He told him: “You have a bad record for violence, but your basis of plea has been accepted and says you went too far in self-defence, having punched the victim to the ground and reacted by kicking him to the face.

“That was punishment rather than self-defence. However, this offence was committed in August 2014 and, to your credit, there has been no offending since then and you now live with your grandparents and have a job.”

Miss Emmi Wilson, prosecuting, said the attack took place shortly after midnight in the centre of Exmouth on August 25, 2014.

She said: “Mr McInnes was kicked and punched in the face by three males and a witness saw Kelly repeatedly kicking him to the head and face with great force. It was described as brutal.

“Kelly told police McInnes had come towards him with what he thought was a knife, but turned out to be a spanner. The victim made an impact statement saying he was reluctant to go out and had suffered swelling to his eye.”

Miss Wilson said the case had taken a long time to be dealt with in court because, while Kelly admitted his part straight away, the other two men had denied the assault and the cases against them had been dropped in June last year.

Mr Ian White, defending, urged the judge to follow the suggestions in the probation pre-sentence report.

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