Street fighters in Canterbury told police they were Irish dancing
Two men caught fighting in a city centre beautyspot attempted to avoid arrest - by claiming they were Irish dancing.
Police were called to Lady Wootton’s Green in Canterbury after Declan Ahern and Callum Stuart were spotted swapping blows in a late afternoon scrap.
Declan Ahern gestures outside Canterbury Magistrates Court
But as officers tried to restore law and order, the two men assured them: “We’re not fighting...we're doing an Irish jig!”
But a judge at Canterbury Crown Court ruled that was just blarney and gave 52-year-old Ahern a three-month jail sentence for affray.
The former RAF man, of Dering Road, Bridge, however, has spent the past 12 weeks in custody awaiting his sentence and was released immediately.
Andrew Espley, prosecuting, told how in June a workman in Lady Wootton’s Green called the police reporting two men fighting.
He said: “It is clear that both were drunk and the witness saw Ahern punching Mr Stuart to the floor.
“And as he tried to get away on all fours, Ahern kicked him in the head and the fight carried on for five minutes.
“The witness said Ahern was the aggressor and he could see Mr Stuart had his face covered in blood.”
But despite sporting an ear injury, his mouth bloodied and his eye swelling, Mr Stuart put his arms around Ahern and told astonished officers: “We are now best friends.”
And then Ahern, who was swigging cider, chipped in with: “We were doing some Irish dancing!”
The prosecutor said the two men – “who were heavily intoxicated”- carried on laughing and joking as paramedics were called.
Mr Stuart then refused to go to hospital to have his wounds examined – despite needing “at least 10 stitches”.
“Ahern was then quite rude to a female police officer and was arrested, “ added Mr Espley.
Lady Wootton's Green in Canterbury
Ian Bond, for Ahern, who had served in the Falklands during his six-year service in the RAF, said: “He wants the court to know that he has not always been a drunk.”
He said Ahern had run a taxi firm for 10 years before it collapsed and then turned to painting and decorating until worked “dried up”.
Mr Bond added that for the past three years Ahern had started drinking heavily because he hadn’t found a job.
During his 100 days in custody, Ahern had gone through a detox programme which was “a real shock to his system” and he was now fitter than he has been for some years.
But Judge James O’Mahony told him: “Mr Stuart wasn’t the only victim here. It’s also members of the public who don’t want this going on all over Canterbury. They don’t want to be put in fear by someone punching another man’s lights out.
“But you have now spent 100 days in custody. In my judgement enough is enough.”
- Click here for more Canterbury news
- Click here for more news from across the county