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Gym boss attacked by employee after dispute

Comment over a Facebook post triggered violent confrontation

John Garvey

John Garvey


01635 886628

Court No.1 New

A STAFF member at a Thatcham fitness gym launched a sustained, unprovoked attack on his boss.

Staff tried to intervene as powerfully-built Marlon Brandon North assaulted gym owner Chris Griffiths, trying to drag him outside by his collar, Reading magistrates heard on Thursday, May 30.

Anne Sawyer-Brandish, prosecuting, said Mr Griffiths had employed 33-year-old Mr North, but “there came a point when Mr Griffiths realised they had different ways of working and he ended his contract with the defendant”.

She added: “He agreed to pay Mr North a month’s wages because he felt he would probably not be happy about the way things had ended.”

The day before the attack, the court heard, Mr Griffiths had spoken to another staff member who had posted a picture of himself on social media.

Ms Sawyer-Brandish explained: “Mr Griffiths didn’t want the gym promoted in this way.

“The next day he was sitting behind his desk when the defendant parked directly outside the doors and began shouting at him.

“He was asking why Mr Griffiths had asked clients not to post pictures of themselves at the gym.

“He was very intimidating and Mr Griffiths said Mr North was a lot bigger in stature than him.

“He was very aggressive and appeared to want Mr Griffiths to come out from behind his desk and go outside.

“Another staff member joined them and tried to calm the defendant down.

“But he continued to be aggressive.”

Mr North then became violent, the court heard.

Ms Sawyer-Brandish said: “For no reason he leaned over the desk and pulled Mr Griffiths by his collar through the saloon-style door with such force that he fell to the ground.

“He was then grabbed by Mr North who tried to pull him out of the main door.

“Mr Griffiths tried to stop himself being dragged outside by holding on to the door.

“Another staff member joined Mr Griffiths and they both tried to cause Mr North to lose his grip.

“Mr Griffiths felt himself being punched to the left side of his face.

“He managed to get up, but the defendant was still trying to get him outside and was calling him a pussy.”

She added: “Mr Griffiths walked backwards through the gym and the defendant followed.

“The other staff member was trying to calm him down.

“Eventually Mr North got back in his vehicle and drove off.”

Mr Griffiths suffered various injuries including a cut to his chin and finger, his glasses were smashed and his top was ripped, the court heard.

Mr North admitted assaulting Mr Griffiths by beating him on January 28 and causing criminal damage to the saloon door on the same occasion.

Rob Jacques, defending, said his client accepted the prosecution version of events, apart from the suggestion that he had punched Mr Griffiths.

The district judge said that whether or not a punch had been used would make a material difference to the severity of the sentence she would impose.

The case was therefore adjourned until a later date for a Newton hearing – a mini trial to establish the true version of events – to be arranged.

Mr North was meanwhile released on bail.

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