Brutal gang attack in Harrogate town centre left victim with broken leg

A gang hunted down a man in Harrogate town centre before knocking him to the ground and subjecting him to a beating which resulted in a broken leg.

Thursday, 16th January 2020, 3:44 pm
Updated Thursday, 16th January 2020, 3:45 pm

The men formed a pack as they chased the victim through the street and then struck him as he lay helpless on the ground, York Crown Court heard.

After repeatedly punching and kicking the man, they disappeared into the night. Some of them got into an Audi and drove off.

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The men formed a pack as they chased the victim through the street and then struckhim as he lay helpless on the ground, York Crown Court heard.

CCTV followed their movements as they left the scene, but police were unable to trace them and only one of them was ever arrested.

Ryan David Clark, 24, handed himself in to police after they put out an appeal on Facebook for information about the attack which occurred in the early hours of December 22, 2017. He was charged with affray and pleaded guilty.

Clark, of Maple Close, Knaresborough, appeared for sentence on Friday. Prosecutor Rob Galley said Clark had held the named victim in a headlock while the others were punching and kicking him.

The flashpoint occurred moments earlier in the McDonald’s restaurant in Harrogate where Clark had gone to get some food after a night out drinking at a work Christmas party. In front of him in the queue were the victim and his friend who struck up a conversation with Clark which was initially friendly.

But then the mood changed when one of the victims made an innocuous remark to Clark about a nightclub in Harrogate.

Mr Galley said: “The defendant became aggressive, saying he would smash their faces in,

“One of (the victims) told him to go away, but the defendant lunged at (the named man).”

His friend punched Clark in the head, sending him reeling backwards. Clark fell to the floor but carried on shouting and making threats. Two McDonald’s security men came between the two men and ushered Clark out of the restaurant.

The two friends, from Ripon, sat down to eat their food, but by this time a group of six-to-eight men were crowding outside the restaurant with Clark, who was clearly brooding and “inviting (the man who had punched him) outside for a fight."

The security men told the two friends that police were on their way and asked them to leave. The victims “reluctantly” got up and walked outside past the menacing mob, walking towards the war memorial.

The group - said to have been egged on by Clark - followed the two men, and as the victims tried to quicken their pace it became a run chase. One of the victims fell over as he tried to get away, and the mob, including Clark, caught up with him.

Mr Galley said: “The group surrounded him. They were kicking and punching him.”

The victim’s friend checked back and “struck out” at the men as he tried in vain to defend his friend, but he too was attacked.

“He managed to get away from them but he couldn’t see where his friend was. He phoned him up but could hear over the phone (his friend) shouting, ‘Help me, they’re here’. It was clear to him that (his friend) was being beaten up again.”

A female voice could be heard over the phone calling an ambulance following the second attack in which the victim broke his leg. It’s not thought that Clark was involved in this “more serious” incident.

The two friends were finally reunited outside the Harrogate Convention Centre.

The main victim was treated for a fracture and “deformity” to his leg at Harrogate Hospital, as well as scratches to his body and face. His friend’s injuries included a swollen scalp and pain to his head.

Clark told police he only had a hazy recollection of the incident because he had drunk about 20 cans of beer at the work party. He admitted he had “hit out” but didn’t know if he had caused any of the injuries.

Defence barrister Brian Russell said Clark’s “shameful” behaviour was “undoubtedly disgraceful (but) out of character,” and he was heavily drunk at the time.

Judge Simon Hickey said the victims were “two innocent young men who were simply enjoying themselves on a night out at their Christmas party”.

He said the “disgraceful group attack… must have caused serious distress not only to the victim but anybody looking on.”

However, Mr Hickey said he could suspend the inevitable jail term because Clark had no previous convictions and was not usually prone to violent behaviour.

The 16-month jail sentence was suspended for a year, but Clark was also ordered to carry out 200 hours’ unpaid work.

In addition, the judge ordered him to pay £250 compensation to the victim and complete a 20-hour rehabilitation course.