Bus company boss fined after brawl
A BUS company owner has been fined £1,000 for arming himself with a pickaxe handle as he took part in a brawl.
Kenneth Hemmings, 53, who runs his own tour company in North Devon, waded in with the weapon during a fight which started at a beer festival in Bradworthy.
He went to help his son Anthony, 31, who lives at Stursdon Farm, Woodford, near Bude, after he came to blows with a pub customer during an argument about comments posted on Facebook about a recently deceased member of the Hemmings family.
Anthony was cleared on Thursday of affray and having a breeze block as an offensive weapon by a jury at Exeter Crown Court.
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Kenneth, of Powlers Piece, Putford, had admitted his part in the disturbance at a preliminary hearing, pleading guilty to affray and having a pickaxe handle as an offensive weapon.
Kenneth was fined £1,000 with £365 costs by Recorder Mr Gordon Bebb, QC, who told him: "You should never have gone there with that stick. It is probably because of you the whole thing happened."
He went on: "I take into account your early guilty pleas and your good character, and that you have a good income from a company employing 33 people. I hope I never see you in a court again."
Janice Eagles, for the prosecution, said it was accepted Kenneth Hemmings had not used the pickaxe handle during the fight.
During the three-day trial the jury heard how Anthony Hemmings went to a beer festival with live bands and a barbecue in the courtyard of the Bradworthy Inn on August Bank Holiday last year.
He arrived around 8pm sober and had words with customer James Clark about comments posted by Mr Clark on Facebook about his brother-in-law, who suffered from cerebral palsy and had died a few months earlier.
Their argument caused the landlady to ask Mr Clark to leave. He and a group of friends were smoking in a side alley when Anthony arrived with his father, who had come to pick him up. A fight ensued.
David Sapiecha, for the defence, said Hemmings Senior worked extremely hard and runs a coach company which employs up to 33 people.