Bristol priest loses faith in police over loud wedding party row injuries

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Image source, Father Colin Mason
Image caption,
Father Colin Mason said he explained to an attacker he was a priest but "that had no effect at all"

A parish priest says he has lost faith in police who failed to investigate when he was hurt on church grounds in a dispute over a loud wedding party.

Father Colin Mason, of Sacred Heart Church in Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol, says he was attacked by four guests when he complained the party overran.

However, two partygoers said Fr Mason was hurt as he fell being escorted out.

Avon and Somerset Police acknowledged Fr Mason's complaint and said it was reviewing its service.

Fr Mason said that while initially helpful, Avon and Somerset Police "did nothing" to investigate the dispute, in which he sustained a fractured eye socket.

He said on the night of the attack, on 20 August, the church hall had been rented for a Hindu wedding with the agreement that it would end at 22:00 BST.

When he said loud music could still be heard more than an hour later, he went to the hall to ask them to end the party.

"Four blokes bundled me outside and one of them beat me up, so I was lying on the grass covered in blood," he said.

'Racist attack'

But two partygoers told the BBC Fr Mason "acted like a lunatic" and was "swearing and cursing to turn the music down" after the wedding overran by 40 minutes.

Image source, Google
Image caption,
The party was held at Newman Hall, located behind Sacred Heart Church in Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol

Party attendees initially thought it was a racist attack as Fr Mason entered the building in a dressing gown and was not identifiable as a priest, they added.

One of the partygoers told the BBC the priest sustained his injuries from a fall while being escorted out by wedding guests and not from punches, adding they apologised at the time for upsetting him.

Fr Mason confirmed to the BBC he was wearing "civilian clothes" but said the rest of the partygoers' claims were "simply false".

He said: "I told them they had to close the party, at which point they attacked me. "I fell after being dragged outside and beaten up.

'Confidence gone'

"The claim that no punches were thrown is laughable, given the blood all over my face and the fracture to the left eye-socket," he said, adding: "They did not co-operate with the police."

The priest said the initial police response was good, with four officers attending to close the party down and an ambulance was called to take him to Southmead Hospital.

However, he said, officers promised to follow-up by taking down the name and contact details of the person who booked the party.

But he heard nothing and contacted the police more than a month later to be told the case had been "filed".

"It doesn't give you confidence in the police if they are not prepared to investigate violent crime," said Fr Mason.

He has now written a letter of complaint asking for the case to be reopened, saying: "I feel a lack of trust in the police. My confidence has gone."

An Avon and Somerset Police spokesperson said the complaint had been passed to the area patrol inspector and the force could make no further comment until the review had concluded.

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