THREE students were spared jail after lashing out at a rival group and subjecting them to a vicious beating, a court heard.
Shalom Sotonwa, Omogbolahan Oyefuwa and Hames Daniels-White became embroiled in a row that escalated and resulted in them kicking and punching two men and a woman in a ‘sustained assault’ where one of the defendants pulled off his belt as a weapon.
The trio, all aged 20, were sentenced to nine months in a young offenders’ institution, suspended for two years, at Portsmouth Crown Court.
The court heard how the men were out celebrating the end of their first year at Portsmouth University – where they have now been expelled from – when tempers flared with a group of revellers at Gunwharf.
‘There was an exchange of words when Oyefuwa grabs one of the victims round the neck before pulling them to the ground where he continues to kick and punch them on the floor,’ prosecutor Rob Harding said.
Prior to the ‘classic melee’ the defendants were said to have made comments to a female member of the rival group before being on the receiving end of a slur that was taken as being racist after one of the men was compared to a Chelsea FC football player or a slave figure.
The victims were left battered by the beating with all three suffering cuts and bruises to the head.
‘When I was lying on the ground being kicked and punched I could see how much my life was on the on the line,’ one of them said in their impact statement.
Oyefuwa’s defence barrister Anyene Eleazer said his client was ‘extremely upset’ over the incident which went from ‘zero to 100’.
Terence Newman, defending Sotonwa, said the mocking remark about a Chelsea player was the catalyst for events. ‘He is extremely remorseful and has paid a heavy price after being expelled from university and losing a year which has cost him £20,000,’ he said.
Oyefuwa, of Spring Lane, and Daniels-White, of Clifton Road - both in South Norwood in London - admitted affray and assault.
Sotonwa, of Woodside Way, Croydon, pleaded guilty to affray and possession of cannabis.
On top of the suspended prison term, recorder Anna Midgley gave Oyefuwa 15 rehabilitation activity days to complete while Daniels-White and Sotonwa were told to complete 80 hours of unpaid work with the latter also given a £50 fine for possessing cannabis.