North Devon coach boss fined £1,000 for Bradworthy brawl
A BUS company owner has been fined £1,000 for arming himself with a pick axe handle as he took part in a Wild West style brawl.
Kenneth Hemmings, 53, who runs his own tour company in North Devon, waded in with the weapon during a fight which started at a beer festival in Bradworthy.
He went to the help of his son Anthony, 31, who came to blows with a pub customer during an argument about unkind comments posted on Facebook about a recently deceased member of the Hemmings family.
Anthony was cleared of affray by a jury at Exeter Crown Court but his father Kenneth admitted his part in the disturbance at a preliminary hearing.
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Hemmings, of Powlers Piece, Putford, near Holsworthy, pleaded guilty to affray and having a pick axe handle as an offensive weapon.
His son Anthony, of Stursdon Farm, Woodford, near Bude, was cleared of affray and having a half breeze block as an offensive weapon on Thursday.
Kenneth Hemmings was fined £1,000 with £365 costs by Recorder Mr Gordon Bebb, QC, who told him: "You should never have gone there with that stick. It is probably because of you the whole thing happened.
“It should never have happened and you know that. It was not exactly the sort of example you would have set. The best way of dealing with this case is to hit you in the pocket.
“I take into account your early guilty pleas and your good character and that you have a good income from a company employing 33 people. I hope I never see you in a court again.”
Miss Janice Eagles, prosecuting, said as a result of the evidence at the trial it is accepted Hemmings had not used the pick axe handle during the fight.
During the three day trial the jury heard how Anthony Hemmings went to a beer festival with live bands and a barbecue in the courtyard of the Bradworthy Inn on August Bank Holiday last year.
He arrived around 8pm sober and had words with customer James Clark, who had been at the pub since noon.
The argument was about comments posted by Mr Clark on Facebook about his brother-in-law, who suffered from cerebral palsy and had died a few months earlier.
Their argument caused the landlady to ask Mr Clark to leave and he and a group of friends moved across the square to the Bradworthy Social Club, where they were smoking in a side alley when Anthony Hemmings arrived with his father, who had come to pick him up.
The jury heard how a fight ensued in which both men claimed they had been assaulted. The prosecution allege that it sparked a disturbance which was like a Wild West brawl.
Mr David Sapiecha, defending, said Hemmings Senior took the piece of wood with him as a precaution and had no intention in using it for violence.
He said: "My client works extremely hard and runs a coach company which organises 140 to 180 holidays per year and employs up to 33 people. He covers when people are sick and the company also carries out school runs.”
He said the conviction may lead to problems with criminal records checks needed to work for Devon County Council or affect his operators’ licence.