Woman in court after wine bar headbutting

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A binge drinker who headbutted an innocent woman after trouble erupted between two groups of females in a Clitheroe wine bar was spared jail.

Pennine Magistrates Court was told how neither attacker Kayleigh Dawn Benson (23), nor her victim Shelley Smith had started the midnight altercation. But Ms Smith ended up with a bloody nose, split lip and bruising to her eyes and nose after the unprovoked assault at Carlito’s, last December 21st. Benson was caught after she was recognised on Facebook.

Benson, who already had a caution for assault causing actual bodily harm dating from January 2012, was told by District Judge James Clarke that her behaviour had been “quite outrageous”. The district judge, who said the defendant needed to take steps to control her binge drinking, added: “People go to prison for this level of violence.”

Benson, of Priory Chase, Nelson, admitted assault by beating. She was sentenced to a 12-month community order, with 100 hours’ unpaid work and a six-week curfew between 9 pm and 7 am. She was also ordered to pay £300 in compensation to her victim, £85 costs and a £60 statutory surcharge.

Prosecutor Mr Andrew Robinson said the victim was at the wine bar with friends when two groups of women were having an argument.

The defendant came up Ms Smith, swore at her and said: “Do you want some?” The next thing the victim knew she was headbutted in the nose, felt instant pain and was bleeding. The defendant was escorted off the premises. Mr Robinson said Ms Smith and her friends knew one of the girls that her attacker was associated with and managed to identify her from photos on Facebook. The victim reported the attack to the police.

Mr Philip Turner, in mitigation for Benson, said she had co-operated with police, admitted the offence in interview, pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and expressed remorse.

He continued: “It does seem, as is often the case, the victim and culprit were not the people who started the altercation. Miss Benson says a glass was thrown and hit one of her friends in the face, which partially contributed to her anger and willingness to do something which, in the cold light of day, would be abhorrent to her.” The solicitor added: “She is assessed as a low risk of reoffending and a low risk of causing harm.”

Passing sentence, the district judge said the offence was nasty. He told the defendant the consequences of what she had done had been significant and there had been consequences between Benson and her family. She had taken some steps to cut down on her drinking. District Judge Clarke added: “Frankly, I’m surprised custody was ruled out as a consideration.”