Family members sentenced following wine bar disturbance

A well-known business owner and his two sons have been ordered to carry out unpaid work for their role in a violent disturbance outside a Ribble Valley wine bar.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 26th September 2016, 4:07 pm
Updated Tuesday, 4th October 2016, 1:32 pm

Sabden entrepreneur Vernon Yerkess (43), the chief executive of Cleverboxes Ltd, Hapton, was made subject of a 12 month community order and must complete 200 hours unpaid work.

His sons Benjamin Yerkess (23) and Harrison Yerkess (18) received 16 and 12 week custodial sentences, suspended for one year by Judge Ian Leeming, who ordered them each to carry out 60 hours unpaid work.

All three had earlier pleaded guilty to affray at Preston Crown Court and were sentenced this week in Burnley.

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The incident, which took place in the early hours of February 21st at Brady’s wine bar in Whalley, saw the group involved in an altercation with doormen Jabar Khan and Tom Davidson in which racist language was used by the family members.

Miss Mercedeh Jabbari (prosecuting) told the court that trouble started when Harrison was asked for identification when entering the bar and became involved in a confrontation with Mr Khan.

The barrister told the court: “Harrison had already entered the bar when he verbally abused Mr Khan by calling him a ‘Paki bast*rd.

“Mr Khan then attempted to eject Harrison from the bar and was punched by the defendant. Mr Khan was then approached by Benjamin demanding to know why his brother was being thrown out. When Mr Khan told him of the racial slur, Benjamin replied ‘well you are’.”

Judge Leeming was then shown CCTV footage which showed how the confrontation spilled out onto the street and lasted for around 10 minutes until police arrived.

Miss Jabbari revealed that during the incident, Harrison had thrown a punch at Mr Davidson, which did not connect, but was then knocked out by a retaliatory punch from the doorman.

Benjamin then kneed Mr Davidson in the face while his father was also involved in the altercation.

Miss Jabbari added: “During the incident outside, other racist language was used which included Mr Kahn being called a ‘Paki ****’ and the doormen being told ‘I don’t know what’s worse, you being a Paki, or you defending a Paki.’”

All three were then arrested and taken to the police station where they admitted being drunk, but could not recall racist language being used.

Mr Mark Stuart (defending Vernon Yerkess) told the court that his client was embarrassed, had cringed at his reaction on the night and was mortified by his actions.

He said: “Mr Yerkess is a man of exemplary good character. He tells me he is mortified at what his family became involved in following a happy celebration to mark his mother-in-law’s 60th birthday.

“There was no suggestion he was physically violent to the bouncers. He had seen one of his sons punched to the ground and his wife also on the floor.

“Subsequently some comments were posted on Facebook and the police investigated. This was an unpleasant incident but fortunately no-one was seriously injured.

“Mr Yerkess employs 30 people in his limited company and has done a lot of charity work.”

Mr Hugh Barton (defending Harrison and Benjamin) described the pair as intelligent young men whose actions were “wholly out of character”.

He added: “The CCTV images speak for themselves but don’t necessarily show everything that occurred.

“The boys became greatly incensed by something and lost their self control. They deeply regret this incident, which has been a salutary lesson.

“Both young men plan to travel to Canada in the new year to learn to be ski instructors.”

In delivering his sentences, Judge Leeming described the incident as “disgraceful”.

He told the defendants that he had taken into account “copious good references” passed to him about the family, but added that affray was a serious offence, whose victims also included members of the public who had witnessed the incident.

He added: “The racist language used was a seriously aggravating factor.”

Each defendant was also ordered to pay costs of £500 each.