Six-month pub ban lasts 17 days
THE decision to all but rescind a pub ban on a thug who launched an unprovoked assault and sparked a mass brawl has been called "difficult to understand".
Joshua Cole, 22, of Windermere Close, in Exwick, Exeter, had been banned from setting foot inside more than 100 bars and restaurants across the city. It was enforced from January 25.
But magistrates this week decided to vary the order to help Cole find employment as a pub chef. He is now solely banned from entering the General Buller in St Thomas where the attack took place.
Police and city centre manager John Harvey, who is also joint chairman of Exeter Night-time Economy Group, have expressed concerns about the move. A previous hearing saw Cole plead guilty to assaulting Iain Curran by beating him. He, without provocation, headbutted Mr Curran which resulted in a fight breaking out in the pub.
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Detective Constable Ian Stairs, who put forward the recommendation to the court that Cole be banned from licensed premises, said: "Everything was fine in the pub, then Joshua Cole decided to headbutt an individual at the bar. This was a man unknown to him and completely unprovoked. It sparked a massive brawl involving everyone in the bar. Cole was chased around the pub and threw a bar stool at another man. It ended up in complete mayhem because of what he did."
An application was put to magistrates this week to vary the term of the order.
Julia Brassington, defending, said: "He is on Jobseeker's Allowance but has trained as a chef, and his usual employment has been in pubs and restaurants.
"The banning order has had the effect of essentially putting him out of work altogether for its duration. He only realised what this meant after the hearing when he saw the list of licensed premises.
"He has had an offer of an interview at a pub but the order as it stands prevents him from attending.
"He has young children to support and is keen to get back into work as soon as possible so he can support his family."
There was no objection to the application and magistrates accepted the request. It means he is now solely banned from setting foot in the General Buller until July 25.
John Harvey, city centre manager and joint chairman of Exeter Night-time Economy Group, said: "On the face of it, this seems a very odd and confusing decision.
"I cannot comment on the specifics of the case without knowing all the details, it would be wrong of me to do so, but I am struggling to understand it.
"Generally, those in the justice system need to be mindful of the consequences of their decisions on the community. It is not just about the right level of policing and the actions of those involved in pubs and clubs working together. The justice system has a part to play.
"There are too many examples where many of us struggle to see a joined-up approach being taken to reducing crime and the potential for crime."
Cole will still have to complete a community order which will see him have to carry out 130 hours of unpaid work.
DC Stairs said: "I like to see people mending their ways but we have to look at the fact that he may do this again and what will happen next time."