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Bouncer Matthew Plowman cleared of using pepper spray against aggressive customer outside Layzell’s Tavern Club in Minster

A doorman accused of squirting pepper spray in the face of an aggressive customer to subdue him outside a nightclub has been cleared by a jury.

Matthew Plowman showed his relief as the unanimous not guilty verdict was reached on Friday.

He had been alleged to have used the unlawful spray three times, leaving Barry Allen “incapacitated” with stinging eyes and a burning sensation.

Matthew Plowman was cleared of squirting pepper spray at an aggressive customer
Matthew Plowman was cleared of squirting pepper spray at an aggressive customer

The burly 44-year-old bouncer stood trial with Scott Secrett, who was accused of wounding Mr Allen during the incident in the car park of Layzell’s Tavern Club in The Broadway in Minster.

Mr Allen was left with “a gaping gash” to his nose and an injury to his right eyebrow.

Secrett was convicted of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm with intent by stamping on the victim, but cleared of wounding with intent and an alternative of unlawful wounding.

Prosecutor Simon Blackford said after an incident in the club on August 21, 2016, Mr Allen was asked to go outside with Mr Plowman shortly after 2am.

Mr Allen had been drinking. He claimed he was “tipsy to happy”, but a police who later attended described him as extremely intoxicated.

Mr Blackford told Maidstone Crown Court they would rely on CCTV footage of what happened in the car park.

Mr Allen was agitated and aggressive, trying to get to Adam Pratt, who was trying to restrain him. Secrett, 42, went over and seemed to have Mr Allen pinned against a car.

Mr Allen became more aggressive, putting his arm around Secrett’s neck and trying to drag him down, said Mr Blackford. Mr Plowman went over, appearing to have something in his hand.

He was then alleged to have used the pepper spray on the victim, who felt burning and stinging in his eyes and couldn’t breathe properly.

“I don’t rule out the possibility of a suspended sentence but you should not make any assumptions it is the likely result..." - Judge David Griffith-Jones QC speaking to Scott Secrett

Mr Blackford said there was a prolonged struggle between Secrett and Mr Allen and they went down between cars.

Mr Allen suffered “a nasty gash” to his nose. Secrett, who was wearing flip-flops, vigorously stamped on Mr Allen, said Mr Blackford. Secrett moved away but then returned and stamped on him again.

Mr Allen was taken to hospital. His T-shirt was found to have the components of a pepper spray, as well as blood, on it.

“It is quite clear he was sprayed with pepper spray,” said the prosecutor. “There are nasty photographs showing to gash to his nose.”

Mr Allen told police he did not see the person attacking him but felt a bite to his nose.

Layzell's Tavern Club. Picture: Instant Street View
Layzell's Tavern Club. Picture: Instant Street View

Mr Plowman, of Oak Lane, Minster, denied having a pepper spray on him or using one. He claimed he only had his radio in his pocket.

He added he believed he had resolved the situation in the best way he could. He denied administering a noxious substance with intent.

Secrett, of St Helen’s Road, Sheerness, said he was asked by door staff to help calm down Mr Allen and he was attacked. He claimed at one stage Mr Allen bit his leg.

He denied all the charges against him.

Mr Blackford said Secrett had previous convictions but had not offended since 2000.

Adjourning sentence for reports until the week beginning May 21 and granting bail, Judge David Griffith-Jones QC warned: “I don’t rule out the possibility of a suspended sentence but you should not make any assumptions it is the likely result.

“Plainly, this is a matter that crosses the custody threshold and you should prepare yourself for an immediate custodial sentence.”

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