Suspended jail sentence for brothers' Exmouth pub attack

PUBLISHED: 15:35 04 November 2016 | UPDATED: 15:35 04 November 2016

Exeter Crown Court. Picture: Alex Walton

Exeter Crown Court. Picture: Alex Walton

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John Gallagher, aged 38, of Laburnum Road, Exeter, and Kenneth Gallagher, aged 44, of Manchester Road, Exmouth, both admitted affray. They were both jailed for 12 months, suspended for a year, and ordered to do 150 hours unpaid community work and pay £675 costs.

A pair of brothers armed themselves with a hammer and a cosh before returning to a pub in Exmouth where one of them had a bust-up with a customer.

John and Kenneth Gallagher were caught on CCTV as they both raised their weapons towards the intended victim, who managed to dodge the blows and punch both of them to the ground.

The brothers had been drinking at the York Inn, Exmouth, earlier in the evening but left after John Gallagher got into an altercation in the gents which was broken up by door staff.

The CCTV system in the pub and the Exmouth town centre cameras captured them returning to the York shortly after midnight while in short sleeves and looking inside.

They went back to Kenneth Gallagher’s home nearby and came back a few minutes later wearing jackets in which their weapons were concealed.

They looked inside the pub again before spotting the other man next to a moped outside a fast food shop and going to confront him.

The footage showed John Gallagher pulling a claw hammer from his coat and aiming two blows, both of which missed. He was then put to the ground and held there by door staff.

His brother then took up the attack and produced a metal cosh known as a fisherman’s priest, which is used to kill fish when they are caught.

He also swung his weapon twice but was punched in the face by the victim, who kicked him twice in the face as he tried to get up.

John Gallagher, aged 38, of Laburnum Road, Exeter, and Kenneth Gallagher, aged 44, of Manchester Road, Exmouth, both admitted affray. They were both jailed for 12 months, suspended for a year, and ordered to do 150 hours unpaid community work and pay £675 costs.

Sentencing them at Exeter Crown Court Recorder Ms Elizabeth Bussey-Jones told them: “It is through complete luck rather than judgment that nobody was hurt that day.

“The factors which increase culpability are that you both brought weapons to the scene, it was late at night, and in a public place. Not only those involved but others who witnessed it must have been terrified by what happened.

“It is in the nature of an affray that it impacts on the wider community. Anyone witnessing this incident would have been petrified to be out on the street.

“I sentence you on the basis of what I have seen from the CCTV, which is as plain as a pikestaff. I am sure you feel embarrassed to have to watch it again when you are sober. I have no doubt you are very ashamed of what you did that night.”

Mr Gordon Richings, prosecuting, said the brothers were drinking in the York earlier that night when John Gallagher had an argument with a man in the toilets. There was some pushing and shoving and he believed the other person had tried to put a finger in his eye.

They left and moved on to other establishments but came back twice, the second time with the weapons hidden in coats which they had just put on.

They both took two swings at the man who they confronted outside the pub and both missed. They were either hit to the ground or grabbed by bouncers from the pub and Kenneth Gallagher suffered a wound to his mouth which needed eight stitches.

After his arrest Kenneth Gallagher said: “My brother got assaulted earlier and we went and got tooled up and then it kicked off.”

John later told probation he had drunk six or seven pints. His brother said he eight to ten. Both said they were deeply ashamed.

Mr Lee Bremridge, for John Gallagher, said he does not normally drink that much and acted out of character. He said he would lose his job as a yardsman at a builder’s merchant if he was sent to jail and would no longer be able to provide for his wife and three children.

He said his client had picked up the hammer from his brother’s garage and put it in his jacket for his own protection as they walked to get a takeaway from a shop the other side of the pub.

Mr Barry White, for Kenneth Gallagher, said he is a fisherman who carried the priest because of his work and had not set out to arm himself. He said he is ashamed and wants to apologise.

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