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A CUNNING rogue staged a bogus 21st birthday bash in a staggering bid to cheat the law and escape justice.

Geoffrey Leigh Ewart went to extraordinary lengths to wriggle out of trouble for a Middlesbrough street brawl.

He faked his own 21st birthday party and falsified photographs to prove his arrest was a case of mistaken identity.

He tried to make the camera lie with pictures showing himself wearing a 21st birthday badge and blowing out candles on a 21st birthday cake.

The snaps were really taken 18 months or more after his real 21st birthday celebrations.

His audacious but doomed attempt to pull the wool over the courts’ eyes backfired spectacularly with a long prison sentence yesterday.

A well-timed pub refurb and detective work rumbled Ewart’s elaborate deception.

Teesside Crown Court heard how Ewart, now 24, was caught in a melee near Albert Bridge at about 2.15am on September 26, 2008.

Five police officers identified him from CCTV footage as the man headbutting and kicking another unidentified man for no apparent reason.

When interviewed Ewart said he wasn’t there and “it didn’t even look like me”.

He produced the photographs which he claimed would prove his innocence – some supposedly taken around his 21st birthday in May 2007, months before the street fight.

They showed him with a tattoo on his right arm – unlike the man in the CCTV film.

CPS prosecutor Alexander Menary said: “It is meant to say, ‘This couldn’t have been me because my tattoo would have been shown, because here I am on these photographs with it on May 2007’.”

The scam was undone with police inquiries at the Norman Conquest pub in Normanby, where the “birthday” pictures were taken.

The pub owner said the photos must have been taken after refurbishments, which took place after Ewart’s fight.

Other photographs were doctored with dates superimposed on to them.

Ewart, of Grisedale Crescent, Grangetown, admitted affray and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

He also admitted an unprovoked actual bodily harm assault on a man at the Garage pub on January 16, 2009.

He repeatedly punched Ryan Leopard-Sheffield leaving him with cuts, bruises and a chipped tooth.

The judge, Recorder Jonathan Sandiford, saw it was Ewart’s subterfuge which earned him the jail term rather than the violence.

He said: “I’m afraid this was not the panicked reaction of somebody giving a false name to the police station.

“It was a pre-meditated, determined and well-planned attack on the court process. It involved the manufacture of evidence. It was persisted in.”

He said it was sinister that Ewart’s solicitors were given the names of people in the photographs to seek statements backing up his lies.

“It’s plain to me that to have any chance of success this scheme would have had to have involved persuading those individuals to give false evidence to say that that was your 21st birthday party.

“In fact, as we know now, it must have been staged at a later point.

“It has been said many times that the court process must be protected,” added the judge.

“And you transformed what was a case involving two bad enough incidents of violence into something more serious.”

Ewart, who had only one previous conviction, was jailed for two-and-a-half years, his first prison sentence, including 18 months for the deception.

Jonathan Walker, defending, said: “It appears to be a fairly determined attempt to warp the smooth running of the criminal justice system.

“The ill-judged stupidity started to unravel when he approached members of his family who quite properly refused to become involved in their son’s folly.

“It became abundantly clear that this was an ill-judged attempt to ramp up what he believed was a proper defence.”

He added Ewart apologised for his “drunken and thuggish activities”, was not inherently violent and had not been violent in the last 18 months.

Ewart was otherwise amiable, industrious, hard-working with strong family support and character references.

Mr Walker said on the day of the 2008 affray Ewart had been to the funeral of a friend whom he had found dead.
Gazette Live

From 2010.

A DAD and son were beaten unconscious on the way home from a day out at Sunderland Airshow.

Thomas and David Surtees had been on a trip with relatives, including the family’s 86-year-old great-grandfather and a new baby, to watch the seafront displays when they were attacked without reason.

Newcastle Crown Court heard Thomas Surtees’ face and head were kicked and stamped on, leaving him with a serious nose injury which required surgery and may never be fully fixed.

His son David was punched and kicked and left covered in cuts and bruises.

Prosecutor Christopher Rose told the court the attackers had initially shouted abuse at the family before the violence started last July.

He said: “David recalls being kicked from behind. He was knocked to the ground and while on the floor he was kicked and punched until he lost consciousness. His father Thomas tried to intervene and he himself was attacked.

“He was either kicked or stamped to the face, and suffered a significant injury to his nose which involved the internal dorsal collapsing.”

Thomas Allen
, of Wylam Grove, Hendon, admitted causing grievous bodily harm and assault.

The court heard he had Mr Surtees Snr’s blood on his shoes when he was arrested.

The 25-year-old also admitted causing grievous bodily harm to a woman, whose arm was broken when a brick was thrown at her, after violence flared in Borough Road after the Tyne-Wear derby in January.

Judge Roger Thorn sentenced him to a total of 32 months.

Stuart Halliday, 24, of Redwood Court, Sunderland, admitted affray on the basis he was with the group which carried out the attack on the Surtees family, but did not throw any punches or kicks.

He was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, with probation supervision and programme requirements.

Judge Thorn said: “This was violence involving a group attack on a family unit, including a father and son, and more particularly a grandfather who was 86 and a young baby.

“There were women in that group. People are entitled to enjoy themselves and expect to have fun without any violence or apprehension of violence.

“This was the most disgraceful attack.”

Defence barristers said both men plan to stay out of trouble in future.

Sunderland Echo

From 2011

A man has been left with an “annoying” click in his jaw when he eats after being attacked by “a feral group” on the streets of Mansfield.

One man has been jailed and three others given suspended terms after admitting affray following the Stockwell Gate attack at 3am on a Bank Holiday weekend Saturday in May last year.

Sentencing, Mr Recorder Stuart Sprawson said: “Nobody is safe when they walk the streets of Mansfield.”

Sitting at Nottingham Crown Court, he was shown a film of their attack on a man who was trying to get a taxi so a tipsy woman could get home.

The CCTV showed the man being punched, falling to the ground and then getting kicked before one of the attackers stamped on him.

Mr Recorder Sprawson said they mistakenly thought their victim had assaulted the woman and “took the law into their own hands”.

Described the men as “a feral group”, he said: “Nobody is safe when they walk the streets of Mansfield.

“You inflicted significant violence for your delight and pleasure.”

Joey Kwong, prosecuting, said their target had medical problems before the attack, but was left with cuts, bruises and damage to his jaw.

He said: “He had a cut lip and pain to the right side of the jaw. When he eats, the right side of the jaw clicks. It causes annoyance.”

Leon Payne, aged 27, of Blackwell Road, Sutton, who was already on a suspended sentence, was jailed for eight months.

Julia King, for Payne, said he threw the first punch, but missed before there was “a flurry of blows”.

She said: “He no longer goes out into Mansfield drinking. He is working seven days a week.”

Steven Anderson, 21, from Strawberry Bank, Sutton, was handed a 10-month prison term, suspended for two years. He was also given a three-month curfew to keep him at home on weekend nights and ordered to pay £240 costs and £100 compensation.

Sarah Phelan, for Anderson, told the court: “He is deeply ashamed and extremely embarrassed by his behaviour and wishes to apologise to the complainant.”

Paul Roberts, 27, of Lime Avenue, Sutton, who had never been in trouble before, was given a six-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months. He must also obey a curfew for two months and pay £240 costs and £100 compensation.

Digby Johnson, for Roberts, said he threw three punches and was involved for “less than four seconds.”

He told the court Mansfield is a town where there is “sporadic violence every Saturday night, let alone every Bank Holiday”.

Finbarr Duffy, 26, of Warwick Street, Nottingham, was given an eight-month prison term, suspended for two years, as well as a curfew keeping him indoors every night for two months. He must also pay £50 to the victim and £50 costs.

Richard Posner, for Duffy, said: “It is fortunate no serious injury arose.

“He does not seek to use alcohol as an excuse. On viewing the CCTV, he felt sick and hated himself.”

Mansfield Chad

Four contract workers attacked doormen “like a pack of animals” when they were refused entry to a city bar.

Supervisor Kevin Matuszek, 42, and his fellow asbestos strippers Danny Matuszek, 19, Antonio Milonas, 42, and Scott Mallaburn, 29, had visited pubs and bars after they clocked off early while working away from home in Exeter on Friday, May 12, last year.

Newcastle Crown Court heard, after around seven hours of drinking, the men were refused entry to the Old Fire House by bouncers, who thought they appeared “boisterous” and drunk.

The refusal led to “all hell breaking loose”, with the men lashing out with feet and fists and even sandwich boards and bar signs being thrown into the pub’s outside courtyard, which was packed with drinkers. One woman witness described the ten minutes of violence, which was captured on CCTV and played in court, as “horrific”.

Four bouncers suffered varying degrees of injury while trying to protect themselves and the pub’s customers from the attack. Matuszek senior, of Fellgate Avenue, Jarrow, his son, Matuszek junior, of Gleneagles Road, Sunderland, Milonas, of Brackley Grove, North Shields, and Mallaburn, of Parkhurst Road, Sunderland, all pleaded guilty to affray when they appeared at Exeter’s city magistrates court. Their case was transferred north for sentence.

Judge Paul Sloan said the attack was “drunken, gratuitous violence” and told the men: “You took exception to the stance adopted by the doorstaff. “You began to be abusive and aggressive as well as threaten violence. “There was some pushing and shoving then the situation calmed down for a period. “Then, as described by more than one witness, all hell broke loose.

“Four doormen were attacked. “Punches and kicks were delivered. “A wooden advertising board was thrown at doormen, as well as other items. “One described you as behaving like a pack of animals.” Judge Sloan added: “One witness described the scene as horrific. “It was clear to her the doormen were trying to protect not only themselves but the customers within the premises.”

The judge sentenced all four men to 12-months imprisonment, suspended for two years, with 100 hours unpaid work, £500 compensation and £150 costs. Matuszek jnr, who has a previous ASBO on his record, has to complete just 80 hours unpaid work but has additional rehabilitation requirements.

The court heard all four men have criminal records but have not been in recent trouble and have all expressed remorse for their drunken behaviour. All have good work records with positive references and future employment prospects.

Jamie Adams, defending both Matuszeks, said the father and son are “ashamed and remorseful” about their involvement and accept their behaviour was disgraceful that day. Barry Robson, defending Milonas, said the dad-of-six is “ashamed” and did not usually drink while working away but had been that day.

Sunderland Echo

The incident subsequently led to a massive brawl that saw three men drive to the party and “brutally attack the children and destroy” a home

Conor Harper

Conor Harper


Three men who ‘smashed a Broadstairs house to smithereens’ in a brawl sparked by a girl’s shaved eyebrows have been locked up.

Ian McGill, 49, his son Charlie McGill, 20, of Dane Court Road in Margate and Colin Harper, 21, of Southwood Gardens Ramsgate were jailed today (December 8) after using physical violence and “beating up a party of young people and smashing a home to smithereens.”

The trio had denied affray and causing criminal damage but were convicted after a trial.

Canterbury Crown Court heard how on June 4 last year, a young girl had her eyebrows shaved as she fell asleep at a party, causing her to be “very upset”.

The incident subsequently led to a massive brawl that saw the three men drive to the party and “brutally attack the children and destroy” the home.

Prosecuting, Gregory Wedge said: “Injuries were caused and a lot of people suffered injuries that caused hospital treatment.”

Calling the actions by the men a “massive overreaction”, judge James O’Mahony sentenced Ian McGill, of Hereson Road, to three years in prison, and Charlie McGill and Colin Harper to 18 months in a young ffenders’ institution for affray and criminal damage.

Calling it a “brutal act”, Judge O’Mahony said: “There was a party at Broadstairs and Ian McGill, and Charlie McGill, with Conor Harper stupidly joining in, went to the house of one of the people concerned to teach them a brutal lesson.

“To use physical violence and beat up the party of people and smash the property to smithereens.

“Ian McGill had a knife and threatened to cut off the finger of a young boy. It was a frightening incident and an invasion of a home in the early hours and causing great damage.”

Pointing out that people who had nothing to do with the incident had suffered, he added: “What a great overreaction making people who had nothing to do with it suffer.

“Knowing that the young people there had nothing to do with the incident did not bother you and you did not care.

“Ian McGill, you were older but you drove the car there, instead of saying ‘hold on, let’s handle this some other way’.

“The young girls eyebrows was shaved which caused her to be very upset, but it was a massive overreaction.”

He also took into account that all three men had pleaded not guilty in the case.

Mr O’Mahony added: “You pleaded not guilty and tried to lie your way out of it.

“You said there was LSD being taken at the party but I completely reject (that).”

The courtroom, full of family and friends of the accused, erupted in a gasp as the sentencing was handed out.

Speaking after the sentencing, the owner of the home involved and mother of one of the children told Kent Live: “I am so relieved it is over. The judge was outstanding and told them off for what they were.

“My son was in the upstairs bedroom when one of the boys ran up to tell him they would kill him if he didn’t hide. My son jumped out from the first floor window in fear, knocking his teeth out.

She added: “At least three children jumped out of the window while another boy had a knife put to his fingers.

“They nearly destroyed my house and caused nearly £8,000 worth of damage. My living room was smashed to pieces and there was blood everywhere.

“They even said if the children told anyone they would find them and kill them. I am just relieved this is over.”

Kent Live



Four men jailed over a back lane attack which left an uncle and nephew fearing they would be killed were like “a marauding pack”.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the disturbance happened in the lane behind Peel Street, Hendon, and followed on from a demonstration in support of an alleged sex attack victim last September.

Sean Ruffell.

Sean Ruffell.

Two Asian men were drawn into the back lane by the sound of their cars being damaged, including a brick being thrown through a window, with repairs running to £1,100.

The court was told they could hear the word “dirty” being shouted underneath the shutters of a back yard, as well as comments relating to colour and Muslims.

A number of the eight men involved in the fight which broke out – which involved a garden fork and another tool – were wearing hi-vis jackets bearing the word “warden” on them which had been seen at the march.

Prosecutor Vince Ward described the men as a “splinter group” from the demonstration and added: “It’s clear from the context of this situation that this was a racially motivated attack.”

Witnesses told police they saw the men being kicked and punched, even when they were on the ground and clearly unconscious.

They were both taken to hospital by ambulance after police arrived on the scene. The uncle was left in need of stitches, with injuries to his head and right eye and bleeding from his gums and chin, while his nephew had a cut to the back of his head and forehead and injuries to his chest.

The uncle told officers: “I thought they were going to kill me” while his younger relative said: “I didn’t think anything like this could happen in England.”

Philip Hackers, 38, previously of D’Arcy Court, Hendon, and now of Oak Avenue, South Shields; Gary Hutchinson, 45, of Gilbert Court, Sunderland; Sean Ruffell, 26, of Athol Road, Hendon, and Darren Kerr, 26, of Gartland Avenue, Grindon, were each jailed for 27 months after they all pleaded guilty to affray.

Daren Kerr

Ruffell was jailed for a total of five years, with another four months given after he admitted possession of an offensive weapon – a knuckle duster found on him when he was arrested while he was involved in a fight in Mowbray Park in the aftermath of the demonstration – and 30 months for three counts of possession of drugs with intent to supply, dating back to a raid on his home in 2014.

Hutchinson faces another two months in jail for two shoplifting incidents from supermarkets while on bail for the affray.

Hackers also admitted possession of amphetamine on the day of the march, but faced no further punishment.

Recorder Nicholas Barker told the men: “After the demonstration it’s clear all four of you and four others decided on a course and were intent on finding trouble and that was the driver for distorted and prejudicial views towards Asian heritage.

Gary Hutchinson

“At this time you were a marauding pack.

“You were prepared or intent on meting out violence in any way that met your perverted ideas.”

The court heard alcohol had been consumed around the march, which had played a part in the outbreak of violence.

Ruffell’s ex-partner Jerri Butler, 27, of St Lucia Close, Hendon, who was not connected to the march in any way, was given 16 months imprisonment for possession of cocaine with intent to supply and 12 months in jail for possession of cannabis with intent to supply – the same charges as her former boyfriend – suspended for two years.

The court heard she had been working at a youth and community centre while the offending happened and had to leave her job as a result of the charges.

Phillip Hackers
Sunderland Echo

A man who mounted a campaign of harassment against his estranged wife walked free from Norwich Crown Court.

Judge Mark Dennis QC sentenced Anthony Bamford, 55, of Runton Road, Cromer, to 16 months imprisonment for making threatening phone calls and sending messages to his wife in December last year.

Many of the messages were sent through their nine-year-old son.

After the offences Bamford was arrested and served seven months in custody, which combined with another 35 days he had served fitted with an electronic tag, was enough to see him go free yesterday.

His sentence was 62 weeks imprisonment and he was ordered to pay £500 compensation, and received an indefinite restraining with regards to his wife.

The court heard Bamford caused his wife great distress, and threatened to kill her and frame her for various crimes.

Mr Dennis told him: “It’s not only [your wife] that has been harmed but it is your son. You should be now with a very heavy heart.”

Bamford was also up for an offence of affray, along with his 31-year-old son, Andrew Bamford, of New Parade, Cromer.

This matter involved two separate assaults using iron bars and shovels against men working on a Cromer construction site on June 22 last year.

The confrontations were caused by an argument over an unpaid bill.

Mr Dennis said: “I have heard nothing to justify you taking the actions that you did.

“It is just brutal behaviour and it has now put you in court.”

Andrew Bamford was given a nine month suspended sentence for this, and was ordered to pay £500 to the victim and do 100 hours unpaid work.

His father was given a six-month sentence for the affray, but this was put down as concurrent to his harassment sentence, so he did not have to serve any extra time.

Both Bamfords were given a reduction in their sentences for earlier pleading guilty.

Eastern Daily Press