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Drinker's savage attack on Newbury town centre publican

Violent offender claimed drink was spiked after Christmas Eve rampage

John Garvey

john.garvey@newburynews.co.uk

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01635 886628

Drinker's savage attack on Newbury town centre publican

A VIOLENT customer launched a savage, unprovoked attack on a Newbury pub landlord and his son.

The mayhem erupted during festivities on Christmas Eve, at The Monument in Northbrook Street.

Licensee Neal Anderson was assaulted and his son Ben, who had been working behind the bar, received a broken tooth and damaged nose.

In the dock at Reading Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, July 5, was James William Layley, who lives at Loundyes Close, Thatcham.

The court heard that the powerfully-built 32-year-old, who has been repeatedly imprisoned for violent offences in the past, later claimed his drink had been spiked.

Maddy Charlesworth, prosecuting, said: “Ben noticed the defendant becoming involved in an altercation with a regular customer, so he asked him to calm down because he was getting aggressive.

“That seemed to anger the defendant.”

Layley then turned his aggression on Ben Anderson, the court heard, shouting: “Who do you think you are?”

Ms Charlesworth added: “He pushed Neal Anderson in the chest, causing him to step back.

“He then threw a punch at Neal, which didn’t connect, luckily.

“Ben came round from the bar to try to stop things escalating.

“He tried to make the defendant leave and tried to push him out the door.”

Mr Layley continued to rage and to resist being ejected by father and son, the court heard.

Ms Charlesworth said: “Layley then punched Ben, chipping his front tooth and giving him a bloodied nose.”

She told magistrates that Ben Anderson later gave a victim impact statement to police, but this was not read to the court.

Mr Layley was initially charged with assaulting Ben Anderson thereby causing him actual bodily harm.

This was not proceeded with when Mr Layley agreed to plead guilty to the lesser charge of assault by beating.

He also admitted assaulting Neal Anderson by beating him.

Steve Molloy, defending, said his client – a “well-built individual” – could remember nothing of the incident, despite consuming no more than four pints of beer and one shot of spirits.

He added: “He believes his drink may have been spiked by persons unknown, perhaps as a prank.

“This is supported by his behaviour upon arrest and at the police station.

“He has four previous convictions for violence and has always been imprisoned for such offences – there has never been any community penalty intervention.”

Mr Molloy said Mr Layley’s partner was in full-time employment, but that he acted as carer for his children and for his mother.

He suggested the court should consider suspending any sentence of imprisonment it might pass and concluded: “You might couple this with some sort of anger management.”

Magistrates declined to pass sentence that day because they wanted to have a pre-sentence report prepared by the probation service.

They warned Mr Layley that this would be prepared on an “all-options basis”, including a potential custodial sentence.

Mr Layley was meanwhile released on bail.

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