Diners dive for cover as brawl breaks out at Festival Park Frankie & Benny's
FRIGHTENED diners at a popular restaurant watched in horror as an ongoing dispute between two warring families escalated into violence.
Customers were enjoying food and drink at Frankie & Benny's' Festival Park restaurant when trouble flared between the Doherty and Maughan families.
The trouble was sparked when Simon Doherty's vehicle was attacked as he shopped at Festival Park in August, 2011.
Simon Doherty left Festival Park and returned around 30 minutes later with defendants Francis Doherty, Michael Doherty and a 17-year-old who cannot be named for legal reasons. They were armed with a pickaxe handle and a shovel.
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Fiona Cortese, prosecuting, told the court yesterday: "Simon Maughan was stood outside the restaurant and saw the defendants come onto the car park.
"He said he saw Michael Doherty with a pickaxe handle and another man had a shovel, and he heard someone shout 'get them'. He ran off to McDonald's but then thought about his family who were inside Frankie & Benny's and he returned to the restaurant."
When he returned Mr Maughan was punched up to five times in the face by the 17-year-old and hit on the head by Michael Doherty with the pickaxe handle.
Ms Cortese added: "Thomas Maughan was inside the restaurant and picked up a stool; and Francis Doherty went inside beating his chest with his fists and shouted 'you're getting it'.
"He put the stool down and Michael Doherty came in brandishing the pickaxe handle. A member of staff said several people were holding bottles and one chair was thrown.
"Staff members and the public were clearly frightened and the defendants left the restaurant."
Following the incident on Sunday, August 21 last year, the three defendants, who all live in Wilson Way, Goldenhill, were arrested.
Francis Doherty, aged 26, and the 17-year-old pleaded guilty to threatening behaviour, while Michael Doherty, aged 20, pleaded guilty to affray.
David Isles, defending father-of-two block paver Francis Doherty, said: "My client and his family are locals. They have lived and worked in this area for many years and he holds a responsible job. These are the victims, they are far more sinned against than sinning."
Anis Ali, defending father-of-one Michael Doherty, said: "The defendant is a man of previous good character."
James Dixon, defending the 17-year-old, said: "Having thought these events through for himself, in particular speaking with his mother, he is determined to avoid repeating the error of judgment."
Judge Robert Trevor-Jones sentenced Francis Doherty to three months in prison, suspended for 12 months. He must also carry out 160 hours unpaid work.
Michael Doherty – who was handed a six-month detention sentence, suspended for 12 months – must carry out 240 hours unpaid work and complete a 12-month supervision order. The 17-year-old was given a 12-month youth rehabilitation order and 100 hours unpaid work.