A LANDLORD has pleaded guilty to releasing CS spray when a brawl broke out inside his pub.
James Murphy, 32, of Seacombe Drive, Great Sutton, admitted the offence when he appeared at Chester, Ellesmere Port and Neston Magistrates Court last Wednesday.
The ‘large-scale disturbance’ involving two groups of males happened inside the Straw Hat pub in Hope Farm Road, Great Sutton, close to midnight on December 13 last year.
Prosecuting, Rob Youds said Murphy had gone upstairs to get his mobile phone in order to call the police, and when he returned one male was on the floor being kicked and punched by six men.
At this point the father-of-two released the spray, dispersing the two groups.
Murphy was in possession of the CS spray, having found it in a hedge outside the pub in the summer of 2008.
Mr Youds said Murphy told the police: “I didn’t know it was illegal. I found it in a hedge and kept it for self-defence.”
Defending, James Bagby said Murphy had kept hold of the spray as the pub was robbed in April 2008 by an armed gang.
They were carrying a machete and meat cleavers and escaped with about £10,000 from the safe.
Mr Bagby said the incident involving Martin Leffler, who was killed after being punched outside the Red Lion pub in December 2008, was also preying on Murphy’s mind as he saw the six men attacking the lone male.
He said: “He was trying to protect somebody who was the victim of an attack.
“He doesn’t spray it at them but above their heads. This is a significant difference.”
Mr Bagby said Murphy did not know CS spray was illegal, although he admitted ‘ignorance is no defence’.
Murphy will be sentenced at Chester Crown Court at a date yet to be set. He was granted unconditional bail.