Footballer escapes jail after ‘wild west’ bar brawl
Bottles were thrown and a belt was used as a weapon when Rolando Aarons and members of his family and friends clashed with at least five men.
A young Premier League star and his mother have escaped jail after admitting their part in a “wild west” brawl in the VIP area of a trendy bar.
Bottles were thrown, a belt was used as a weapon and punches were thrown when Newcastle United winger Rolando Aarons and members of his family and friends clashed with at least five men in the Livello bar on the city’s Quayside.
The footballer had asked the other men to stop filming his auntie dancing with one of their group just before the 90-second melee broke out, which caused £7,000 of damage and led to one injured man claiming £21,000 compensation.
Aarons, 22, and members of his group admitted an affray charge last month.
It happened at around 3am on October 9 2016, when Aarons and his group were celebrating his child’s first birthday.
There had been friendly conversation between the two groups and Aarons asked Wesley Erskine from the other group to stop filming, which he did, and the two men shook hands.
Shortly after, tensions bubbled up again and Aarons headbutted Mr Erskine, Newcastle Crown Court heard.
Toby Hedworth QC, defending, said this was a “footballer’s headbutt” and may not have even made contact.
The incident was caught on CCTV, but was not shown in court.
He is not the sort of person looking to cause violence Toby Hedworth QC
Penny Bottomley, prosecuting, said Aarons was pulled back by a member of the other party, broke free and lunged towards another man and punched him twice in the face.
She said: “He is then dragged off and moves back towards that male and hits him again before finally being dragged off towards the back of the VIP area.
“At times he looks upset and at times he is struggling to get back towards the group of people that are fighting.”
His mother, Joan Jacob, 46, initially tried to be a peacemaker, but after she was pushed out of the way she picked up a glass and threw it towards a man.
She later calmed her son down.
His cousin, Garfield White, grabbed a display Champagne bottle with a wooden mounting and hit a man on the head with it, then punched and kneed him.
His friend Jamar Collins, 22, of Walker Close, Bristol, also picked up a glass and threw it.
Another man, yet to be sentenced, used his belt as a weapon.
Miss Bottomley said door staff told police it was one of the worst incidents they had seen.
“One of the door staff described it as being like the Wild West,” she said.
Mr Erskine sustained three injuries which left him scarred and caused a loss of confidence.
The court heard one head injury was caused when doormen, acting properly, were removing him from the scene.
The London-based company director said he had missed seven months of work and claimed £21,000 compensation, plus another £445 for damaged clothes, which Judge Edward Bindloss declined to impose
on the footballer.
Mr Hedworth, for Aarons, said his party had been behaving well that evening while the other group from London had been thrown out of their hotel the night before.
Aarons, said to be of good character, accepted he was wrong to head butt the other man, but a number of the other group had put their hands on him at the time.
A member of the other group, none of whom were prosecuted, was the first to throw anything, the court heard.
Aarons went back to the venue days later and paid £7,000 for the damage caused.
Mr Hedworth said: “In his career as a footballer, from 15 or 16, he has received one yellow card.
“He is not the sort of person looking to cause violence.”
Aarons has been on loan with Hellas Verona in Italy, and may be looking for a new loan club next season, his barrister said.
Judge Bindloss handed Aarons a 10-month jail term, suspended for 12 months, ordered him to carry out 100 hours unpaid work and to pay £800 costs.
He said: “You have a responsibility to behave in a proper and decent way, on this occasion your standards slipped.”
Jacob was handed a 28-week jail sentence, suspended for 12 months, plus a two-month curfew order.
The judge sentenced White, now serving a 17-year sentence for a serious violent offence, to 15 months in jail.
Collins, a talented musician and clothes designer, also received a 10-month jail term suspended for a year with 100 hours unpaid work.