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Thugs launch brutal attack on defenceless bodybuilder leaving him severely injured at William Harvey Inn, near Ashford

Two thugs who beat a bodybuilder unconscious with a fire extinguisher during a pool tournament have been jailed.

The victim, who suffered a shattered eye socket, still endures blackouts after also being repeatedly punched and kicked in the head.

Etienne Bailey suffered extensive injuries following the horrific assault
Etienne Bailey suffered extensive injuries following the horrific assault

John Reading, 31, was jailed for 11 years after being deemed “dangerous” while Levi Smith, 30 was jailed for two years and three months.

The attack was today described at Canterbury Crown Court as “furious” and “utterly life-changing” before the pair “disappeared into the night.”

Former bouncer Etienne Bailey arrived at the WIlliam Harvey pub in Ashford for a pool tournament when the duo’s friend, Andrew Barton, ignited a row in the early evening of August 2019.

Outnumbered three-to-one, Mr Bailey moved to the pool area among other revellers where Reading and Smith followed him.

CCTV played in court showed Smith land an unexpected punch to Mr Bailey’s head when Reading also began raining blows.

Smith continued to punch and kick then headlocked dazed and defenceless Mr Bailey from behind for Reading to land a succession of blows.

“When Mr Bailey is on the floor Reading kicks him to the face and strikes him with a fire extinguisher before he and Smith leave,” prosecutor Chris Prior explained.

Clear footage of the chilling 37-second attack unpicked the pair’s initial claim of self-defence, as Mr Bailey could clearly be seen not retaliating.

Both men then fled the Church Road pub in Willesborough triggering a huge police response and appeal before Smith handed himself in.

Reading, just six-and-a-half weeks later and wanted, would mimic the sustained attack on an acquaintance inside a Croydon pub.

John Reading
John Reading

During a drinking session at The Pembroke pub in Coulsdon near Croydon, Reading launched towards Michael Cash knocking him to the ground with one punch.

CCTV showed Reading unleashing a volley of kicks and punches, dragging his victim around the venue by his trousers as he pleaded to be left alone and trying to scramble away.

Reading could be seen slamming a wooden bar stool on his victim’s head, again in front of onlookers, which left him wounded and unconscious.

Mr Cash, who did not want to give a victim impact statement to the court, also suffered a broken leg.

But speaking of his attack prior, Mr Bailey told the court he still suffers blackouts, depression, anxiety and isolation after being treated for multiple eye-socket fractures and a broken nose.

“My life has been flipped completely upside down since I was assaulted - it is the worst thing that has ever happened to me,” he explained.

Judge Rupert Lowe said the “furious attacks were entirely unnecessary’ and both men “lacked remorse as you disappeared into the night.”

Levi Smith
Levi Smith

He added Smith played a “leading role” but accepted he tried disarming the fire extinguisher from Reading.

Turning to Reading, he added: “You joined in with real fury delivering as much harm as you possibly could.

“This attack has been utterly life-changing for (Mr Bailey).”

Mitigating, Tyrone Smith QC said Reading turned to drink after suffering a number of deaths in the family.

“It wasn’t an incident that had a background or history it arose in a public house.

“He became involved in a dispute with Mr Bailey and he became involved in the moment - there was a lack of premeditation,” he added.

Smith’s barrister Brian Reece urged the judge to suspend a prison sentence, explaining he is a father for two young children and carer for his father.

The William Harvey Inn
The William Harvey Inn

“This man is still relatively young, he need not have his life transformed by a period of imprisonment, perhaps everyone should be allowed one mistake,” he said.

Reading, of Charing Heath Road, Charing, who has 14 previous convictions, was handed an extended sentence of 11 years custody and three on licence after pleading guilty to wounding with intent and wounding.

Smith, of Orchard Drive in Bethersden, Ashford, who has no previous convictions, was jailed for two years and three months after pleading guilty to affray.

A GoFundMe page set up to help popular supermarket worker Mr Bailey back on his feet raised £3,612, exceeding the £1,000 goal.

Posted days after the assault, it said:

“Etienne is a well loved member of our community working in a local supermarket, always a friendly face, although a big man (he) is nicknamed "Tiny" by his most closest friends.

“He is a father and at the moment his children cannot see him due to his injuries, he is obviously unable to go to work for at least the next four weeks maybe longer and like us all he has bills and rent to pay.

“I am asking for people of our community to help assist him during his recovery period."

To read more of our in depth coverage of all of the major trials coming out of crown and magistrates' courts across the county, click here.

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