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Defence lawyer for Watford's Troy Deeney says 'red mist came down and he lost control'
Watford FC striker Troy Deeney has been jailed for ten months for his part in a savage brawl that left three students injured, including one with a broken jaw.
Deeney, the club’s top scorer last season, was caught on CCTV kicking one of the victims in the head after his friend’s birthday celebrations ended in violence in Birmingham town centre in February.
The 23-year-old stood in the dock at Birmingham Crown Court today along with his younger brother Ellis Deeney, 21, and their two friends Oliver Brennan and Marc Williams.
The court heard the four had been "swept up" in a large fight which took place outside Bliss Bar on February 29 between the students and a group of unrelated black youths who were trying to force their way into the club.
The judge was repeatedly played footage of the 30-second mêlée in which Troy and Brennan were seen kicking a student in the head.
Ellis was also filmed aiming a kick at another student and Williams, whose birthday was being celebrated, punched someone else in the crowd. Troy’s defence solicitor Mark Haslam argued that he became involved in the fight because he saw his brother Ellis involved and then the "red mist" descended.
He told the judge that Troy, who has a three year old son, had the most to lose and had put it all in jeopardy in a "moment of madness".
Mr Haslam said: "It is clear that in his 23 years Troy Deeney has done much that’s good for himself, his family and communities for whom he is involved. That is to his credit.
"Against that you have to balance his participation in this disgraceful episode.
"Is it really absolutely necessary for him to lose everything he has achieved and could achieve because of his engagement in those 30 seconds seen so frequently today?"
However the judge, David Tomlinson QC, said the four men had joined in a "gratuitous beating" of the students who were already outnumbered in the fight.
He singled out Troy and Brennan as the more serious offenders for attacking men who were on the ground and defenceless.
He said: "A particularly aggravating feature for a defendant is to kick someone when he is on the ground and a particularly aggravating feature for a defendant to kick someone in the head when that person appears to be barely conscious and quite plainly not capable of defending himself."
Prosecutor David Lees told the court that of the three university students left injured by attack, it was Nathan Parton whose jaw was fractured.
Mr Lees said his injuries had left Parton with a scar, which made it difficult to shave and meant he may need to undergo plastic surgery.
Another student, Liam Baister, had his lip badly lacerated and required 20 stitches and a third student, Peter Hearne, was left with a grazed forehead and swelling to the back of his head.
Troy and Ellis were both arrested on the night of the fight, with Williams and Brennan apprehended in the following weeks.
All four men admitted affray at an earlier court hearing in May based on what they had been captured doing in the CCTV footage.
The Crown Prosecution Service said it could not be proved that any of the four was responsible for the injuries the students sustained.
A judge was told the police were still seeking people in connection with the fight.
The court was told that the Deeneys and their friends were out celebrating the birthday of Williams on the night.
They had been for a meal, before heading to Bliss and were outside when the punch-up started.
Ellis Deeney’s barrister, Lynette McClement, said the birthday group had not been the ones to start the fight.
She said a statement from Bliss Bar’s head doorman had stated the fight had broken out when a group of black youths tried to barge their way into the club.
The doorman said one of the black males then picked up a pole to threaten the club’s staff, which was taken out of his hands by one of the students, starting the brawl.
"The violence was started by others and in the confusion those in the dock were swept up in it," said Ms McClement.
Ms McClement said the Deeney brothers had also been dealing with a tough family situation in the run-up to the fight.
She said their grandfather and grandmother had both died in the preceding year and the week before the incident they had learned their father had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Their father Paul has subsequently died.
Ms McClement described Ellis as having a "short fuse" on the night of the brawl.
Troy said he had initially wanted to keep out of the fight but entered the fray because he had seen Ellis in the scrapping crowd.
Mr Haslam told the judge: "As far as he is concerned the red mist came down and from that moment he lost control."
When Troy was interviewed by the police he was described as "audibly shocked" by the CCTV footage and remorseful.
Yet Judge Tomlinson said although they did not start the brawl, the participation of the four made it worse for the victims.
"Three men were singled out in what can only be described as a gratuitous beating," said Judge Tomlinson.
"The effect was that three men, who were already heavily outnumbered, became even more so as a result of what you all did."
Brennan, 20, of Hazel Croft, Chelmsley Wood, was sentenced to eight months in a young offenders institution.
Ellis, of Poplar Avenue, Chelmsley Wood, and Williams, 26, of Stonebridge Crescent, Kingshurst, walked free from court as they were handed eight-month prison terms suspended for 18 months with supervision orders.
As Troy and Brennan were taken down, female relatives burst into tears in the public gallery.
Troy, who gave his address as Keepers Gate, in Chelmsley Wood, could be heard urging them not to cry and asking Ellis to look after their mother.
Deeney has one year left on his Watford contract after signing the extension a month after the incident.
He was released by Aston Villa as a youngster and was at non-league side Chelmsley Town before he was spotted by Walsall.
His performances attracted the attention of Watford and after a slow 18 months to his Hornets career, Deeney finished last season as the club's top goalscorer with 12.