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Scared man 'lashed out' at stranger in Shropshire beer garden, court hears

Cleobury Mortimer | Crime | Published:

A scared man 'lashed out' at a stranger who was spoiling for a fight and broke his jaw, a court heard.

Richard Butcher, 27, is accused of wounding Harry Lee on a night out in Cleobury Mortimer in June 2017.

He has admitted punching Mr Lee but has maintained that he didn't want trouble, and was defending himself from Mr Lee who he said told him he 'liked a fight'.

Butcher gave evidence at the trial at Shrewsbury Crown Court, which also heard part of his interview with police a few months after the incident, in which Mr Lee suffered a fracture to the left side of his jaw.

Butcher said that Mr Lee had pointed at him in the beer garden of the Old Lion pub and acted aggressively over a period of time, swearing at him and whispering in his ear: "What are you going to do?"

'Gobbing off'

He said that he felt scared when Mr Lee later approached him with a glass in one hand.

Under questioning from defence barrister Marc Davies he said he thought he was about to be attacked, and swung at Mr Lee as he tried to get away from him.

"I was aiming to stop him attacking me," he said.

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In the police interview he said: "I felt scared he was going to either hit me or grab hold of me and smash me in the head or the face with this pint glass.

"I'm not aiming to hurt him, just in that circumstance I have felt really scared."

Butcher said that he lashed out "with reasonable force" and was then set upon by a group of about three.

The groups were separated by the pub's landlord, according to Butcher.

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He said he was surprised to hear about the broken jaw because Mr Lee and his friends were shouting and 'gobbing off' after the punch, saying he was 'a dead man'.

Some of Mr Lee's friends who were with him when he was hit also gave evidence.

Crack

Harry Thomas, an old school friend, said that there was a 'verbal confrontation' between Mr Lee, one of his friends, and Butcher.

Mr Lee offered to fight Butcher in the beer garden after the latter had taken exception to his shoes being mocked, said Mr Thomas.

He said Mr Lee was later hit from behind while counting out money, saying he heard a crack which he later realised was Mr Lee's jaw breaking.

"Then we made sure that Richard wasn't going to punch him again and we took him away from the situation," he said.

"There was pushing and shoving for a bit, it was a bit heated."

Cross-examining him, Mr Davies put it to Thomas that after the punch Mr Lee and his friends gave Butcher 'a bit of a seeing to', which he denied.

He said: "I'm going to suggest to you that that night he was punched Harry Lee was the aggressor – taking a step and a swing towards Mr Butcher."

Mr Thomas denied this.

Butcher, of Lindridge in Tenbury Wells, denies wounding and the trial continues.

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