Four men jailed for 'serious violence' in attacking group outside Portsmouth train station

FOUR men who attacked an innocent trio after a night out have been jailed.

Sunday, 28th March 2021, 7:00 am

Portsmouth Crown Court heard the three victims were walking towards the taxi rank outside Portsmouth and Southsea railway station after a night out at The Astoria nightclub in Guildhall Walk.

Out of nowhere, they were attacked by five thugs, who punched and kicked the men to the ground before dispersing, the court heard.

The ‘unprovoked’ attackers were caught ‘clearly’ on CCTV, and were arrested – with four of them jailed on Friday.

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Portsmouth men Bobby Allen, Brandon Gibbs and Connor Speller were jailed alongside Leigh Park man Michael Nicholls who threw the first punch. Isle of Wight teenager Ernie Hider will be sentenced in May.

Prosecuting, Simon Foster said the attack on the trio including victim Luke McGowan was ‘unprovoked’.

He said: ‘Luke McGowan’s recollection is that one came up screaming at him then punched him in the side of the hip. He remembers being dazed.

Portsmouth Crown Court Picture: César Moreno Huerta

‘Nicholls struck him in the right side of the face. Speller then hits him from behind and Gibbs punched him in the gut.

‘The camera pans out and you can see them beginning to disperse – the men can be seen lying on the floor.’

Allen threw a single punch, while Hider was seen throwing punches, the court heard.

A victim statement from Mr McGowan was read out in court, revealing how his confidence had been destroyed by the attack and how he felt somehow responsible.

It said: ‘I feel somewhat to blame and felt I owed them [my friends] an apology.

‘It has made me feel very down and and tired, with no motivation or confidence.

‘I still often think about this incident because I don’t know why I was attacked.’

All of the men had previous convictions, ranging from dangerous driving (Nicholls) to battery (Gibbs) and racially-aggravated harassment (Allen).

Mitigating for Speller, James Caldwell said his client ‘has his back turned to the group’ when the violence started.

All men had shown remorse since, the court heard.

Gary Venturi, for Nicholls, described the attack as ‘short-lived’ and asked for a suspended sentence.

But the prosecution said as the attack happened in a public place and had multiple victims, the judge should take a firmer stance.

Sentencing, judge David Melville QC said: ‘An entirely innocent man, minding his own business, was punched.

‘That started a fight where two of his friends were also assaulted.

‘This was a sustained attack in a public place, and there was serious violence involved.’

Gibbs was jailed for nine months, Allen for six and Speller was handed four months.

Nicholls was handed nine months – including three months for breaching a suspended sentence for a previous dangerous driving conviction.

Hider’s sentencing was adjourned to May 7 for a pre-sentence report to be compiled.

Bobby Allen, 19, of Lake Road, Landport; Brandon Gibbs, 23, of Northam Street, Landport; Ernie Hider, 18, of Yaverland Road, Sandown, Isle of Wight; Michael Nicholls, 21, of Cheriton Close, Leigh Park, and Connor Speller, 20 of Copnor Road, in Copnor, all admitted affray over the incident in the early hours of August 21, 2019.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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