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6 men sentanced over North Yorkshire fight,.

Lorraine Venning

10:30am 23rd December 2010
(Updated 10:31am 23rd December 2010)

Devastated mum warns of alcohol-fuelled violence as six men are jailed for violent disorder

Good Samaritan and single mum of three, Lorraine Venning from the Pateley Bridge area has issued a plea to festive drinkers to take responsibility for their alcohol consumption after six men were sentenced yesterday for a large-scale fight during which she sustained life-changing injuries.

The six men from Doncaster were jailed for more than 15 years at York Crown Court for their part in a drink-fuelled brawl which left 46-year-old Lorraine with a serious head injury, another man partially sighted and many others with cuts and bruises.

Ahead of Christmas, victim Lorraine Venning wants to use this case to highlight the dangers of drinking too much and the potential devastating consequences.


Gavin David Poole - 18 - Ridge Road, Highfields, Doncaster - Charged with viklent disorder and sexual assaults against two young women. Sentanced to a total of three years, six months in a young offenders' institute.

PICTURED : Gavin David Poole.


Gavin David Poole


Ricky Ellery - 25 - Woodlands Road, Woodlands, Doncaster, charged with violent disorder. Sentenced to three years, nine months in prison.


PICTURED: Ricky Ellery.

Ricky Ellery



Dean William Macalister - 28 - High St, Askern, Doncaster, charged with violent disorder. Sentenced to two years, six months in prison.


PICTURED: Dean William Macalister

Dean William Macalister

Lewis Curry - 21 - Windmill Balk Lane, Woodlands, Doncaster - charged with violent disorder. Sentenced to two years, six months in prison.

PICTURED: Lewis Curry.

Lewis Curry


Nathan Lee Bridges - 21 - Woodlands Road, Woodlands Doncaster, charged with violent disorder. Sentanced to two years, nine months in prison.

PICTURED: Nathan Lee Bridges.

Nathan Lee Bridges


Dean Richard Wilkes - 24 - Central Avenue, Woodlands, Doncaster, charged with violent disorder. Sentenced to 12 months in prison.

PICTURED: Dean Richard Wilkes.

Dean Richard Wilkes

Lorraine issued the following statement:

“In addition to the physical injuries that I received, there is too much to tell of how this has affected my life.  I feel sad that this is what happens when you try to help somebody. I was attacked when I attended to someone who had been assaulted and  I ended up with life-changing injuries.


“I used to be a full time, single mother of the children.  I was very independent and saved money by performing my own home, garden and car maintenance.  Due to this incident, my children lost their mother. To them, the lady who returned from neurology rehabilitation was a different mum. I was weak and unable to care for them. It is I who now needs the care and support.

“I was a student on three courses, hoping to progress to a teaching degree. Due to the assault, I missed an exam for which I had worked hard for and financed. I had planned to further my hairdressing career and become a Lecturer of Hairdressing, but now I cannot perform all hairdressing processes nor store information sufficiently.

“It scares me, especially now with the
Christmas drinking, to think how many innocent people could be injured as a result of fighting.

“If alcohol or any substance changes who you are and you know that you can become violent or irresponsible,  then you have a responsibility to control the drink, not let it control you!  Life's not what you make it, it's how you react to it!

“I have served 20 months of my ‘sentence’ already. While those lads were out on bail living their life, I was learning how to live again.  I have had to re-learn basic life skills, from reading to making myself a cup of tea. It has affected my family’s everyday life. It will have also affected the assailants' poor families too. It makes so much work for the NHS, police and the criminal justice system, whose help and support I am so very grateful for as I would not be here without them.

“I will take this journey and use it like a work experience placement and hopefully give something back for what was given to me by supporting other people with brain injuries.”

PICTURED: Lorraine Venning.

Lorraine Venning


At 1:25am on Sunday 3 May 2009, police officers attended reports of a large scale fight outside The Royal Oak in Pateley Bridge, near Harrogate, North Yorkshire. 

The six men were staying in the area on a fishing trip and had been drinking in The Crown and The Royal Oak pubs in the town. 

In both pubs witnesses described the men as loud and that a few of them began to upset people by making lewd comments regarding the local women.

Prior to the fight, the men were ejected from The Royal Oak by the landlord after one of them, Gavin Poole,  was seen inappropriately touching two young women. Once outside the pub, the group attacked the landlord.

A large scale fight then ensued which resulted in a number of men and women being assaulted. A number of large plant pots were thrown.  Some of the victims and witnesses were already outside within the smoking shelter or just outside the door. As the fight escalated, customers from The Royal Oak went outside and became involved themselves. 

The aggressors were seen to kick people on the ground and systematically work their way through the crowd assaulting people as they went.

Numerous people attempted to stop the men from assaulting the landlord and, as a result, they were assaulted themselves. One of them, Lorraine Venning, a 46-year-old mum of three,  sustained a serious head injury which has left her with life-changing injuries. 

Lorraine was punched and fell to the floor sustaining a fractured eye socket. This led to a bleed on her brain resulting in two seizures, leaving her with a brain injury which has effected her sight, hearing, walking and ability to carry out simple day-to-day tasks.

She spent two months in hospital and a period of time in a wheel-chair. She has had to re-learn how to do simple tasks such as reading and making a cup of tea and her career plans for becoming a lecturer in hairdressing have been dashed. She can no longer care for her young family.

Another victim, a man in his 30s, lost the sight in one of his eyes.

On the first day of the trial at York Crown Court (15 Nov 2010),  Gavin Poole, Dean Wilkes, Nathan Bridges, Dean Macalister and Lewis Curry pleaded guilty to Violent Disorder.

Gavin Poole pleaded guilty to a further two charges of Sexual Touching.

Ricky Ellery pleaded not guilty but was found guilty by jury on Friday 19 November 2010.

Investigating Officer, DC Sarah Lynch of Harrogate CID, said:

“The devastating consequences of mindless, alcohol-fuelled violence has been tragically highlighted by this case.

“A member of the public who went to the aid of another has had her life changed forever, her career plans destroyed and her family life torn apart. Another victim has lost his sight and many others have suffered from cuts and bruising.

“The events of 3 May 2009 are truly shocking to law-abiding members of the public, and are thankfully rare in North Yorkshire.

“We hope today’s outcome sends a clear warning to others who use drink as an excuse for violence, that their behaviour will not be tolerated and they will find themselves facing the full force of the law.

DC Lynch added: 

“I would like to pay tribute to the victims and the many witnesses who have come forward to assist the police investigation. Their contribution has resulted in the offenders being brought to justice to face the consequences of their sickening behaviour. 

“We hope the victims find some comfort from the sentencing, but nothing can ever undo the devastating damage caused by this pointless and mindless act of alcohol-fuelled violence.”

DC Lynch was commended by Judge Stephen Ashurst who prasied her skills and the considerable care she took with the victims and witnesses.

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