Jail for paralytic thug who had knife at nightclub

Burnley Crown Court.
Burnley Crown Court.

A tattooed thug with a knife took his top off, showed off his inkings at a Burnley club, frightened a man into doing the same and then attacked him, starting violence which could have caused mayhem in the town, a court heard.

Graeme Hughes (37) punched Joseph Duffy on the tattoo on his arm, squared up to him, was thrown out of Hotshots in Burnley and then apologised to the victim outside.

As a bouncer stood between the pair, Hughes, who had the blade in his pocket, boasted to the victim: “You wouldn’t stand a chance against me. No matter what happened, you’d get pierced.” Hughes, who hit Mr Duffy again, was heard by the doorman to say: “I’m going to put this in his neck,” as the bouncer felt something sharp. Armed police called to the trouble found a four- inch knife in a doorway as Hughes made off, the town’s crown court heard.

Hughes, a father of two, was at the time running a cleaning firm, with NHS contracts to sterilise equipment. He was said to have gone out to drown his sorrows after he and his partner had had bad news about IVF treatment she had been having and he had ended up paralytic.

The hearing was told the defendant had a long record for violence. In 2009, he was jailed for possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence and in November 2011, he was locked up for six-and-half years for affray and robbery, a term on which he had been recalled after the latest offences.

The defendant, of Worsley Street, Accrington, had admitted having a bladed article and two counts of common assault and had been committed for sentence by Burnley magistrates. He was given a 16-month prison term.

Prosecutor Stephen Parker told the court Mr Duffy was in the Hammerton Street club at about 2am on February 5th. He noticed Hughes standing further down the bar and said the defendant kept looking over towards him.

Hughes approached Mr Duffy. Mr Parker said: “He came up and got in his face. Mr Duffy felt intimidated. The defendant asked Mr Duffy if he had any tattoos. The defendant took his own top off and showed his tattoos to Mr Duffy and Mr Duffy took his hooded top off to show a tattoo he had on his arm. He was punched to the arm by the defendant.”

The prosecutor said a bouncer had been told by members of the public they believed Hughes had a knife, albeit neither he nor the victim saw it. The police arrived, Hughes made off and police recovered a four-inch bladed knife.

Patrick Williamson, in mitigation, said Hughes would potentially remain in custody until perhaps October 2017 on recall. He said: “He found that knife earlier in the evening and put it in his pocket for fear that it would be used by someone else. It’s ironic that he then found himself in this situation. Although he was in possession of the knife throughout this incident at no point did he actually draw it or brandish it. At no point did he take the knife out of his pocket.” He said the defendant had made significant strides since his release from prison in July 2014.

He had his own cleaning business and another job which he had now lost and the offences were out of character for him.