Leek pub-goer beaten up for refusing a drink
FORTY-SEVEN-YEAR-OLD Neil Woodcock headbutted and punched a fellow drinker after a row erupted in a pub.
Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court yesterday heard Woodcock, who has very poor eyesight, and his victim, Bernard Poiser, were drinking in the Hare and Gate pub, Leek, on the evening of February 10.
They knew each other and spent some of the night chatting.
At 11pm, when Mr Poiser and his partner went to leave, Woodcock offered to buy a drink.
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But Mr Poiser declined and the defendant shouted abuse at him.
Prosecutor David Bennett said: "The complainant was upset and walked back. They were face to face. The defendant head-butted him.
"The complainant tried to walk away.
"The defendant punched him in the face."
The court heard Mr Poiser went to hospital the next day where he received treatment for a fractured left eye socket.
In his interview Woodcock told police he acted in self defence as the complainant went towards him. He added that he was sorry and regretted the incident.
Woodcock, of Churnet View, Leek, pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm on the basis he was not drunk, there was a fall out towards the end of the evening and insults were exchanged. The parties went face to face and he misinterpreted the situation and head-butted the complainant.
Robin Lichfield, mitigating, said there was an element of provocation.
"Mr Woodcock has very poor eyesight. He was concerned about the situation when Mr Poiser was close to him," said Mr Lichfield.
"He accepts he overreacted and regrets it bitterly. He did not mean to cause harm."
Mr Lichfield said Woodcock suffers from a serious medical condition and has been warned he may go blind.
"It was a one-off matter, he has not been in trouble for some time, there was some provocation and an immediate sentence would have serious consequences for him," added Mr Lichfield.
Judge Robert Trevor-Jones sentenced Woodcock to six months in prison, suspended for two years, with 12 months supervision and 60 days of anger management workbook. He will also be under an electronically-monitored curfew from 8pm to 7am for four months.
"You caused a very unpleasant injury," said the judge.
"You had been having an amicable conversation while having a pint or two. The atmosphere changed. It came to a point you were face to face. You felt threatened so you reacted violently."