Sat, 02 May 2015
THEY are crispy, tasty and golden - but are onion rings worth going to jail for?
A Thatcham man who stabbed a colleague with a steak knife in a row over onion rings has narrowly avoided being sent to jail.
The bizarre incident happened in the Diamond Tap pub, Cheap Street, Newbury, during a works Christmas party.
The victim, Simon Myers, needed hospital treatment for his thigh wound and his attacker, Mark Lawson, ended up in the dock at Reading Crown Court.
At a previous hearing the court was told how Lawson, of Battalion Way, Thatcham, had ordered a meal with colleagues from a building firm.
When his meal arrived he told those present they could help themselves to one of his chips – but not his crispy onion rings.
However, since apparently forbidden fruit is always the sweetest, Mr Myers was unable to resist.
As he took an onion ring from Lawson’s plate, the 44-year-old suddenly started shouting “Don’t you come between me and my onion rings” and promptly stabbed him in the leg, to the horror of fellow drinkers and diners.
Mr Myers was taken to hospital by ambulance with a two-inch-deep knife wound but was allowed home after treatment.
However, Lawson was warned he could end up in jail for his actions.
He admitted one offence of unlawful wounding in the Wetherspoons establishment on December 19 last year.
At a sentencing hearing on Wednesday, April 22, John Simmons, defending, said that Mr Lawson had been battling a drink problem, even visiting Alcohol Anonymous to help him get sober.
He added: “This is an incident that started out as a joke but didn’t end up that way. Drink was obviously at the root of this and Your Honour sees that Mr Lawson has said that he struggled for many years with drink. Before this Christmas party he was almost minded not to attend and now, of course, regrets the fact that he did.
“He had abstained from alcohol for six months so this was a one-off. He hasn’t drunk from that day to this.”
The court heard that his client, a father of one, was an exemplary employee with a good work ethic, working long hours, six days a week, at a construction site at Newbury Racecourse.
Mr Simmons went on: “He comes across as an extremely affable, very likeable man... he can’t believe how much trouble he has got himself into. He realises he is just not someone who can drink.”
Mr Simmons told the court that Lawson had apologised to his colleague and added: “Both men are regarding it absolutely as what it was – an odd one-off.”
The judge, Recorder Patrick Hamlin, told Lawson: “You were in trouble with the police and the courts quite a lot when you were younger but for the last 20 years you have stayed well clear of trouble.
“You have kept a steady job, you are working long hours, usually six days a week. You put that all in jeopardy when, at a Christmas function last year, you drank too much.”
However Mr Recorder Hamlin told a visibly relieved Lawson that he could spare him immediate imprisonment and sentenced him instead to a six- month jail term, suspended for a year as well as a 12-month curfew.
Lawson was also ordered to pay £250 compensation to Mr Myers and £350 costs.