Police chief welcomes sentencing of wine bar fracas trio

The police officer in charge of the case of a business owner and his two sons, who were ordered to carry out unpaid work for their role in a violent disturbance outside a Ribble Valley wine bar, has welcomed their sentences.
Burnley Crown CourtBurnley Crown Court
Burnley Crown Court

Speaking after the sentencing of Vernon Yerkess (43) and his sons, Benjamin Yerkess (23) and 18-year-old Harrison Yerkess, Sgt Chris Valentine said he welcomed the early guilty pleas by the trio.

He said: "I hope the family take time to reflect on their actions."

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Sgt Valentine, who was the police officer in charge of the investigation into the fracas outside Brady's Wine Bar in Whalley on Sunday, February 21st, also said he "fully agreed" with the comments made by Judge Ian Leeming who described the incident as "disgraceful."

Judge Leeming 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 said: “The racist language used was a seriously aggravating factor.”

At he time Sgt Valentine took the unprecedented step of calling for calm on social media after the incident prompted hundreds of vitriolic comments, threats and posts on Facebook.

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And he warned that anyone who felt the need to be a "keyboard warrior" by posting comments about revenge could find themselves included in the police investigation which would be conducted in a police station interview suite.

Sgt Valentine said: "I would ask that all those who were so quick to pass judgement and comment on social media consider how their actions have impact on the business and the victims of this crime."

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

Benjamin Yerkess and Harrison Yerkess received 16 and 12 week custodial sentences, suspended for one year and they were each ordered to each to carry out 60 hours unpaid work.

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

The incident 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.

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“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.

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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.’”

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