IT was as if a hand grenade had been tossed into a crowded club room.
Customers fled or dived for cover as raging Benjamin Kane Owen suddenly stood up, tore off his shirt and went berserk.
Within seconds an elderly man lay motionless, felled by a savage punch, while bar stools, tables and chairs were tossed into the air like toys and drinks were swept to the floor.
Ashleigh Glenn, prosecuting at Reading Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, March 30, played dramatic CCTV footage of the incident in the clubroom at the Holybrook Centre, also known as the Kennet Valley Community Centre, in Carters Rise, Calcot.
It showed families and friends enjoying a lunchtime drink, seated close together at densely-packed tables.
In a sudden commotion, 29-year-old Mr Owen, of Park Lane, Tilehurst, stands up and begins lashing out at people nearby.
In the ensuing chaos, he hurtles towards an older, grey-haired man at the bar and fells him with a punch to the face.
The man hits the floor and drinks go flying as a shirtless Mr Owen begins overturning tables, hurling bar stools in the confined space and lunging towards other customers.
In moments, the once-crowded room is almost cleared; some cower while others try to restrain Mr Owen.
The felled man can be seen, still unable to stand unaided and leaning heavily on those trying to help him up.
Ms Glenn said: “Members of the public intervene and try to restrain the defendant.
“He sweeps drinks from a nearby table.
“Eventually he is escorted out and the police arrive.”
Mr Owen was arrested and initially replied “no comment” to all questions, the court heard.
But after being shown the dramatic CCTV footage, he said he “felt like an idiot,” said Ms Glenn.
She added: “The officers asked him: ‘Any reason for that punch?’ He said no, he just felt everyone was against him.”
Mr Owen admitted causing criminal damage to tables, bar stools and beer glasses belonging to the community centre and using threatening behaviour with intent to provoke fear of unlawful violence, both on March 11.
His numerous previous convictions include multiple offences of violent disorder, causing criminal damage and being drunk and disorderly, plus a conviction for using violence to enter premises.
Rajah Azam, defending, called a probation officer who had interviewed his client to give evidence.
She told magistrates that Mr Owen’s offending had usually been the result of drinking and that, ironically, he had previously completed an anger management course.
The probation officer added: “He says he would prefer not to go to prison.”
The court heard Mr Owen, a stepfather of three who is currently unemployed, was a regular at the club.
After retiring to confer, magistrates made Mr Owen subject to a 12-month community order and ordered him to complete 200 hours’ unpaid community work.
They further ordered him to complete 15 days of rehabilitation activity to include education on alcohol abuse and anger management.
Mr Owen was further ordered to pay £150 compensation to the community centre, plus £85 costs and a statutory victim services surcharge of £85.