Rugby prop escapes jail after brawl in Whitby pub

Simon Bunting
Simon Bunting

A drunken brawl in a Whitby pub ended with a doorman nursing a black eye and a police officer Tasering the main aggressor – a former top rugby player.

Violence flared in the packed Abbey Wharf pub in Market Place when Simon Bunting, 47, lashed out at revellers who had allegedly been taunting him, Scarborough magistrates heard.

Police were called to the scene at about 11pm on June 9 after the violence spilled out into the street, where the strapping builder had to be Tasered by police after threatening to attack an officer.

Bunting, who was on a seaside trip with about 50 other men to celebrate someone’s 50th birthday, let rip when a group of about six men, thought to be fellow bricklayers from Rotherham, started “taking the mickey” out of him.

The court heard that Bunting was in a state of “emotional turmoil” because he had just heard that his father had died.

The tight-head prop - who played for Rotherham RUFC, Sheffield Tigers and Doncaster during a glittering career, and still turns out for Rotherham Veterans - started throwing punches “indiscriminately” at the men, who were striking back, before the door supervisor tried to break up the fight, said prosecutor Martin Butterworth.

The doorman jumped on Bunting’s back and tried to restrain him, but the man mountain punched him twice in the face.

The haymakers left the doorman with bruising and swelling to his eye, causing momentary blurred vision.

Other staff intervened, whereupon Bunting’s son, 18-year-old Morgan Bunting, got involved in the scrum and assaulted another doorman, believing that his father was under attack.

The doorman suffered cuts to his lip and soreness and swelling to his cheek and jaw.

Bunting senior’s friends ushered him out of the pub, but the violence continued in Cliff Street and Flowergate. Police arrived and a sergeant told the men to stop, but Bunting swore at him and raised his fist.

“He was threatening to assault the officer,” added Mr Butterworth.

The police sergeant took out his stun gun and Tasered Bunting twice – once when he was on the ground. Bunting was finally cuffed.

Bunting, who had drunk six pints, was charged with assault, resisting a police officer and public disorder. He denied all charges and the case was set down for trial last week, but he

admitted assault and resisting a police officer on the day of trial. The public-order charge was dropped.

Magistrates adjourned sentence and warned the married father-of-three that jail was on the cards because of the “sustained” attack and his record for violence.

Bunting, of Clarence Place, Maltby, South Yorkshire, appeared for sentence on Tuesday, knowing that his liberty was in danger.

His lawyer Peter Large said Bunting was ordinarily a hard-working family man who had built up his own limited company involved in construction and contracting.

He claimed he had been provoked by the group of men who also worked in construction and disliked Bunting.

“Some of them are in a rival builder’s firm and have taken against him,” added Mr Large.

They have been a cause of trouble to my client and he to them.”

However, Mr Large said his client’s behaviour in Whitby was “disgraceful” and added: “He’s entirely ashamed of himself.”

David Auton, chair of the magistrates’ bench, told Bunting his loutish behaviour was “not the most shining example of fatherhood”.

“The people who suffer are a doorman in licensed premises doing his job, and a police officer having to restrain you,” added Mr Auton.

However, he told Bunting that he would not be going to prison. Instead, he was given a 12- month community order with 80 hours of unpaid work. He was also made to pay £200

compensation to the named doorman and a similar amount in prosecution costs.

Morgan Bunting, who lives with his parents, admitted common assault last week and was given a 12-month conditional discharge. He was also ordered to pay £100 compensation to

the other doorman.