Newbury Racecourse stag party brawl: Jury retires to consider verdict

Newbury racecourse
Image caption The court heard the fight at Newbury Racecourse lasted up to 15 minutes

The jury in the trial of four men charged with being involved in a fight between football fans during a stag outing at a racecourse has retired to consider its verdict.

The men, all members of a Welsh rugby club, were on a trip to Newbury races in July last year when up to 70 people clashed.

Fighting lasted for up to 15 minutes with many receiving serious injuries.

All four men deny affray and claim self-defence.

During the trial, the jury at Reading Crown Court viewed footage of the disorder captured on both YouTube by spectators, and on Channel 4's television coverage on 14 July 2012.

The court heard many of those involved in the fighting were supporters from Cardiff City and Swansea City in what one witness believed was an "organised, pre-arranged fight".

Chants of "Jack Army" and "Soul Crew", associated to both football clubs, were heard towards the end of the fighting.

Throwing punches

The defendants Robert Jenkins, 32, of Heathfield, Gorseinon, Ryan Thomas, 30, Brynffynon Road, Gorseinon, Joshua Davies, 25, of Priors Way, Dunvant, and David Jenkins, 32, of Gryn Rhos, Llanelli, were all on a stag party with members of Gorseinon Rugby Club.

Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny was also in the 80-strong group from the rugby club, but not involved in any of the disturbance.

While three of the defendants admitted throwing punches, they told the court their actions were a response to feeling "under threat of immediate danger" and "in defence of themselves and those around them".

The jury also heard how one of the rugby club's buses was attacked with stones after the fighting died down, as they prepared to return home from the racecourse.

Summing up, Judge Zoe Smith told the jury of four women and eight men that they should treat all four defendants as men of good character, and that credit should be given to them for voluntarily handing themselves into police to give evidence.

She said: "You must ask yourselves whether the actions on that day of each defendant when seen to be using force, show them not acting in lawful self-defence."

Judge Smith asked the jury, where possible, to return majority verdicts on each of the defendants.

The trial continues.

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