A former one-time Pompey captain has been fined for taking a picture in court as his friend, Crystal Palace captain Jason Puncheon, was handed a community order for lashing out with his belt at a group outside a nightclub.
Ex-Blues central defender Ben Chorley was dramatically charged just moments after Puncheon was sentenced today for a public order offence.
Now playing for Bromley FC, Chorley was fined £1,000 for taking a photograph and a short clip during the hearing at Staines Magistrates’ Court.
Both Puncheon and Chorley, who made 31 appearances for Pompey between January 2014 and June 2015, had been on a night out with their wives in December when an early morning fight broke out.
Puncheon was seen to twice strike out with his belt in the melee, before telling a bouncer who tried to return it to him that he should keep it and buy a house with it.
The 31-year-old was ‘irate’ after the December 17 incident outside Mishiko nightclub in Surrey and challenged police to arrest him, the court heard.
The evening had been pleasant up until the point another man interrupted himself and his wife dancing, Puncheon told the court.
He said the man, unknown to him, had put his arm around him and when asked not to do so began insulting him.
Speaking from the witness stand, Puncheon, who said he had been drinking that evening, said the man swore at him saying he is a bad player and added: ‘That’s why Roy (Hodgson) doesn’t play you.’
He added: ‘He also said to me that that would be a good story for The Sun.’
After leaving the nightclub and going to their chauffeur-driven car, Puncheon, who the court heard was wearing a three-quarter length herringbone jacket, said another woman attempted to strike his wife as he ushered her into the vehicle.
He stated that his friend, Chorley, who the court heard had given police the name Steven Cotter after the incident, was punched by someone else during the incident in Church Street.
Chorley, who plays for National League side Bromley FC, had been sitting at the back of Staines Magistrates’ Court throughout the hearing, but ended up in the dock himself after being accused of contempt of court.
Moments after sentencing Puncheon, District Judge Michael Snow ordered Chorley to hand over his mobile phone.
He then asked him to step into the dock and told him: ‘Mr Chorley, you are now charged with contempt of court. You have taken a photograph in the court of Mr Puncheon in the dock.’
Chorley who gave his address as Oakfield Lane in Dartford, was held in custody as he awaited legal advice prior to his sentencing.
Earlier, Puncheon gave evidence in relation to the nightclub incident.
Asked how he felt after he claimed to see someone attempt to strike his wife he said: ‘Really concerned for my safety to be honest, because of the build-up of everything that had happened. The moment that somebody leaned over to hit my wife and hit my friend I think it spiralled out of control.’
Prosecutor Craig Warsama told the court that after the incident outside the club Puncheon was ‘irate’.
‘He was shouting: ‘Arrest me, arrest me’ in what was described as an aggressive tone,’ Mr Warsama said.
When a bouncer who had confiscated the belt then tried to return it to Puncheon, the prosecutor said: ‘Mr Puncheon’s reply was “Keep it, keep it. Buy it. Buy a house with it”.’
He made no comment to police when he was interviewed, the court heard.
Mr Puncheon was acting in self-defence, his lawyer Sallie Bennett-Jenkins QC said, but this argument was dismissed by District Judge Michael Snow.
He said: ‘It’s quite clear to me that he had completely lost control of his behaviour at that time. And he was striking indiscriminately at that group.’
The judge added: ‘The CCTV is clear and unarguable. No-one viewing that CCTV I’m afraid could come to a different conclusion.
‘He was not acting in self-defence or in the defence of another (when he used the belt).’
Puncheon, of The Warren in Kingswood, Surrey, wore a black suit, black shirt and black trainers as he stood in the dock
He had been due to face trial but changed his plea to guilty at the last minute, admitting a section 4 public order offence of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to cause fear or provoke unlawful violence.
Ms Bennett-Jenkins QC described her client, who has three children with his wife and also looks after her child from a previous relationship, as a family man.
She said the incident was an ‘utterly isolated matter’.
Puncheon was handed a community order, requiring him to carry out 210 hours of unpaid work, and was told to pay £250 compensation to a man he struck out at with his belt.
He was also ordered to pay £930 towards prosecution costs and an £85 Government surcharge.
A further charge of assault by beating was dropped after no evidence was offered by the prosecution.
The court heard Puncheon has a previous conviction for assaulting a police officer in 2004, for which he received a 12-month conditional discharge, and driving offences including no insurance and no licence four years later.