A MAN beat a friend’s love rival with an ornamental wooden sword in front of shocked diners at a Chester pub, a court heard.
James Swindells claimed he leapt into action at the Wheatsheaf Inn on Parkgate Road, Mollington, to defend Dylan Sanger, who had become involved in a “scuffle”.
The 21-year-old said he initially thought the object was an umbrella, but later admitted brandishing it as a weapon and pleaded guilty to affray.
Chester Crown Court heard yesterday that dozens of people, including families and children, had been enjoying a Sunday carvery when violence broke out at about 4.30pm on October 20 last year.
Some terrified witnesses told police they mistook the wooden sword for a machete.
Swindells, of Cavendish Close, Warrington, was sentenced to six months in prison for affray and three months for possessing an offensive weapon, with the terms to run concurrently.
The Recorder Elgan Edwards also ordered him to serve six months of a previously suspended eight-month sentence.
Father-of-one Sanger, 27, of Joseph Groome Towers, Ellesmere Port, was handed a six-month prison term for affray.
Mr Edwards told the pair: “It is disgraceful that you got yourselves involved in this offence of violence when people were there having a pleasant time in a public house in this city. This kind of conduct will not be tolerated.”
The court heard that the two men had turned up to the pub for a Sunday roast without knowing Sanger’s rival, with whom he had a “young lady in common”, would be there.
They exchanged words and took their argument outside – but CCTV footage played in court showed the brawl spill back inside the reception and dining area of the pub.
Swindells was seen brandishing the ornamental sword and striking the victim with it several times.
Defending Swindells, Adrian Evans, said: “He saw the co-defendant [Sanger] in a fight and reacted instinctively to protect his friend from the rather larger man. He accepts he went too far and that he put other members of the public enjoying their meals in fear, and he apologises for that and is remorseful.”
Swindells had been in custody since February 18 and had been taking anger management classes and other activities in a bid to turn his life around, he said.
Christopher Hunt, defending Sanger, said no one was hurt in the fight, describing it as more of a “scuffle”.
He added: “He very much regrets his involvement and is ashamed of his behaviour.”
Both have a string of previous convictions, including possession of an imitation firearm and resisting a police officer for Swindells, and robbery, burglary and possession of a stun gun for Sanger.