THREE men involved in a drunken brawl at upmarket country hotel following a champagne and lobster event have been spared jail.
The row in the reception area of the Hardwick Hall Hotel, in Sedgefield, spilled into corridors and left traumatised staff cowering in offices.
Durham Crown Court heard several people at the £160-a-head event became involved in what was like a the “Wild West saloon brawl” in April 2012.
A “horrendous” injury requiring 130 stitches was inflicted on an innocent bystander when a broken champagne flute was thrust into his neck.
Shaun Dodds, prosecuting, said the man believed to be responsible for that attack remained at large.
The melee broke out after Stuart Bell, 46, was head-butted. When a man approached him with a champagne flute, he kicked out in self-defence, the court heard. Bell then picked up a lampshade and struck out with it.
Bell, of Front Street, Burnhope, who admitted causing fear or provocation of violence, was given a 24-month conditional discharge.
David Neil Garside, who arrived after the brawl started, picked up a candelabra lamp and lifted it up as if to strike, but it was taken off him.
The 29-year-old of The Oval, Hartlepool, was given a four-month suspended sentence, fined £500 and ordered to do 100 hours unpaid work, after admitting affray.
Dwane Douglas, 48, had followed a peacemaker down a corridor and rained four blows down on him.
The judge said it was only for his record as a prodigious fundraiser that he was not given an immediate jail sentence.
He said: “There are two completely different characters in front of me – one who acts in a loutish way and the other who raises money for others – £50,000 in total.
“Because of that exceptional mitigation, I am not sending you to prison immediately.”
Douglas, of Sitwell Walk, Hartlepool, admitted affray and was sentenced to six months suspended for a year and ordered to do 150 hours unpaid work. Each man was ordered to pay £750 in costs.
The jury failed to reach a verdict in the case of Leon Morfitt, 31, of Owton Manor Lane, Hartlepool, who denied affray. The prosecution since announced it is not seeking a retrial.