Couple sentenced for Boxing Day melee in Bury St Edmunds

St Olaves Road in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

The incident happened in St Olaves Road on Boxing Day 2018

A Bury St Edmunds couple have avoided jail after admitting their roles in a Boxing Day melee in the town which left a man needing eight stitches. 

Jason Southern and Ellen Lawrence appeared at Ipswich Crown Court to be sentenced following the incident around 7.30pm on December 26, 2018, on a grass area in St Olaves Road. 

The court heard that Southern, 37, previously pleaded guilty to affray on the basis that Lawrence was being threatened and he intervened. 

In his basis of plea, which was read to the court, Southern said he accepted using "excessive force" in the melee and admitted punching a man twice. 

The victim required eight stitches to a wound on his left upper lip, Hugh Vass, prosecuting, told the court. 

The injuries to other people involved mainly amounted to bruising, Mr Vass said. 

Lawrence, 27, previously pleaded guilty to a section four public order offence for her part in the incident. 

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The couple, of Anderson Walk, Bury St Edmunds, had both been drinking alcohol at the time of the offence, the court heard. 

The court heard that Southern had eight previous convictions for 13 offences while Lawrence had one previous conviction for assaulting a police officer in 2016. 

Anthony Hucklesby, mitigating for the couple, said the incident had been "a wake-up call" for the pair. 

He said alcohol had played a significant part in Southern's offending in the past and that he had abstained from drinking during lockdown. 

Mr Hucklesby said Lawrence, a care home worker, looks back on the incident "with a sense of disbelief and shame". 

He said the couple were remorseful for the actions and had made "positive steps" to turn their lives around since the incident. 

Judge David Pugh said the delay in the case coming to court was "regrettable" but it had worked in the pair's favour. 

Southern was sentenced to nine months' imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, and handed 180 hours of unpaid work. 

He was also made subject of an alcohol monitoring tag, along with 20 rehabilitation activity days, and ordered to pay £750 in compensation to the victim. 

Judge Pugh told Lawrence her actions resulted in the incident escalating and handed her a 12-month community order, with 20 rehabilitation activity days. 

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