Two men jailed and banned from drinking in Harrogate town centre after spate of 'sickening' violence

Two men have been jailed and banned from all licensed premises in Harrogate town centre following a spate of “sickening” violence in which one man suffered a fractured jaw and another was left with a broken ankle.

Thursday, 11th March 2021, 3:12 pm

Liam Edmonson, 23, and Aaron Topham, 22, got involved in a drunken slanging match with two other men which descended into ugly, drink-fuelled violence, York Crown Court heard.

CCTV footage showed the two groups of men “going backwards and forwards” across the main road in the town centre, where Topham shouted “threats and abuse” at the victims before a melee ensued, said prosecutor Matthew Collins.

From left: Liam Edmonson, 23, and Aaron Topham, 22, have been banned from visiting licensed premises in Harrogate town centre.

Topham punched one of the men in the face in front of horrified onlookers who were “stepping aside to get out of the way”.

Edmonson then floored one of the named victims with a mighty blow to the face which broke the man’s jaw.

He and Topham then walked off “rather nonchalantly” and headed for the nearby McDonald’s restaurant “as if nothing had happened”.

The victim had to undergo surgery in which his jaw was wired and metal plates were fitted inside his mouth.

In a separate incident near the same location, Topham, who was acting alone on this occasion, “poleaxed” an innocent bystander outside the Revolucion de Cuba bar in Parliament Street.

The named victim was knocked off his feet by a “very hard blow”, described as a “sucker punch” to the head which caused bruising and swelling to his face and, worse still, a fractured ankle when his leg buckled as he fell over. He was taken to hospital where his leg was encased in a cast.

Mr Collins said that before the attack, the victim had spoken to Topham about his bad language, “particularly towards women” and his then girlfriend, who was on the receiving end of a volley of verbal abuse.

The victim was stood just outside the entrance to the bar when the “wholly unprovoked” attack occurred.

He said he had incurred thousands of pounds of lost earnings through not being able to work and had struggled to pay his mortgage.

He had suffered “the worst pain I’ve ever experienced” and the incident had had an impact “on my entire life”, including cancelled holidays and having to ask family members for loans. He was still receiving physiotherapy treatment, two years on from the attack.

The victim whose jaw was broken in the affray said he and his family had been caused a “great deal of distress”.

The father-of-two, who works in sales, said he had trouble sleeping and eating after his jaws were wired for six weeks, which led to mouth ulcers from the metal plates.

He had to take time off work and undergo specialist treatment at York District Hospital.

Topham, of Stockwell View, Knaresborough, was charged with affray, common assault and public disorder.

Edmonson, of Pasture Crescent, Knaresborough, was charged with affray.

The incidents occurred in February 2019. Both men ultimately admitted the offences and appeared for sentence on Tuesday.

The court heard that Edmonson, a father-of-one, had previous convictions including obstructing a police officer with intent to resist arrest.

Topham, who was on bail and subject to a court order at the time of the shocking incidents in Harrogate, had a track record for public disorder and threatening behaviour. He had previously been banned from a pub in Knaresborough.

Abbie Whelan, for Edmonson, claimed he had acted in self-defence initially during the affray, but then joined in the melee when it became clear that the two other men were getting the better of his friend Topham.

Ismael Uddin, for Topham, said his client had gone off the rails following a difficult upbringing which culminated in drink-fuelled violence against “random strangers”.

He described Topham, a former supermarket worker, as an “angry, reckless and impulsive young man”.

Judge Sean Morris slammed both men for the “sickening violence” which had left at least one of the victims facing severe financial hardship due to the seriousness of their injuries.

“You, Edmonson, struck a man so hard that you shattered his jaw (which had to be) wired,” said Mr Morris.

Jailing Topham for 12 months, he told him: “You poleaxed a man (who) ended up with a shattered ankle which seriously affected his life. It was an extremely nasty injury.”

Edmonson was given a six-month jail sentence.

Both men were also barred from all licensed premises in Harrogate town centre for three years and banned from drinking alcohol in public in the town for the same period upon their eventual release from prison.