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Holsworthy brawl: Quinlan family 'we were set upon'

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: April 19, 2013

Exeter Crown Court

A FATHER and his three sons have told how they were set upon by up to 20 men as a violent mob tried to drive them out of Holsworthy.

Steven Quinlan and his sons Blaine, Jake and Charlie told a jury at Exeter Crown Court they were the victims of the violence and were acting in self-defence.

The mass brawl erupted after a Halloween party at the Crown and Sceptre pub in Fore Street, at which some guests were dressed as witches and undertakers.

Blaine and Charlie say they were attacked outside the pub by a group of locals who picked on them because they were not regulars and hit them with fists and a metal crutch.

The brothers told Exeter Crown Court they summoned their father to pick them up and he and Jake were then confronted by 15 to 20 men in the centre of the town.

The prosecution alleges the family were at the heart of the disturbance and all four kicked and stamped on Crown and Sceptre barman Ricky Cobbledick, who was left with serious head injuries.

Witnesses have described Steven Quinlan driving his car at the angry crowd when he arrived in Fore Street to pick up his two sons.

The jury has been told there were tensions between the Quinlans and the other group.

Steven Quinlan, 45, and sons Blaine, 22, Jake, 23, and Charlie, 18, all of Downs View, Venn Green, Milton Damerel, all deny violent disorder, affray, attempting to cause grievous bodily harm with intent, and causing actual bodily harm. Steven denies dangerous driving.

Charlie Quinlan can be named for the first time because he turned 18 at the weekend.

Blaine Quinlan said he had been out in Holsworthy all evening and had been to the Crown and Sceptre and the Old Market before returning to the first pub where two parties were under way.

There was a fancy dress Hallowe'en event and a private birthday party and he told the jury that trouble started with an argument over a spilled drink, which led to him being asked to leave.

He said he was forcibly ejected, attacked outside the pub and he and Charlie were then followed by a mob of men through the town.

He said: "In the pub this guy had his hands against my face and it seemed he wanted a fight. The landlady got between us and asked me to leave. I told her I hadn't done anything wrong and she said she could not force me but she would rather I went because the others were all her regulars.

"I was pushed off my bar stool and dragged out of the pub with people shouting that I was not welcome in Holsworthy. I felt like I was being attacked and wanted to know why I had been removed.

"I was punched by several people and they were all shouting for me to go home and saying I was not wanted there. I lashed out a couple of times because I was frightened they were going to hurt me and my little brother."

His father told the jury he had arrived and pulled up safely and not driven at anyone or hit any pedestrians. He and Jake, who arrived with him, said they only got out of the car to save Blaine and Charlie from the angry group surrounding them.

Charlie Quinlan said he had been acting as peacemaker in the first confrontations in and around the Crown and Sceptre and had never attacked anyone, let alone stamped on Mr Cobbledick.

The trial continues.

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