Man's back broken in 'cowardly' attack at memorial darts tournament

14 March 2017 4:10PM

A beaten darts player broke a rival’s back as a pub memorial tournament erupted into violence.

CCTV footage captured 22-year-old Ryan Bracken punching a bystander out of the way before attacking Mathew Smith – a man described by a judge as “half” his size.

During the incident, in front of other players and spectators at Workington’s Royal George on August 30 last year, Mr Smith was struck and then crushed by Bracken against a wall underneath the dartboard.

The bricklayer suffered a fractured vertebra, the bone in his spine having ultimately been reduced in height by 40 per cent.

He was kept in hospital and was forced off work for seven weeks.

At Carlisle Crown Court, Bracken was sentenced after pleading guilty to unlawfully and maliciously causing his victim grievous bodily harm.

Beccy McGregor, prosecuting, said the men were attending a 16-player darts competition held in memory of Mr Smith’s grandfather.

“Throughout the evening Mr Smith describes being subjected to comments and digs from the defendant,” said Ms McGregor.

Mr Smith initially challenged Bracken, who vowed to “take his head clean off”. Bracken then leaped up and launched an attack which left his victim briefly unconscious and in agony.

The court heard the assault had affected the victim’s life “in every way”, and left him in “substantial pain”.

“He was concerned he may have a spinal weakness for life,” Ms McGregor added.

In interview, Bracken suggested he acted in self-defence until presented with video evidence to the contrary.

He admitted being “annoyed” having been knocked out of the darts tournament and conceded he was winding up Mr Smith up.

But he had shown remorse and was shocked to learn the extent of Mr Smith’s injury.

Greg Hoare, defending, said Bracken was employed as the skipper of a safety boat.

This was run by a private company – sub-contracted to the Ministry of Defence – and operated off the Cumbrian coast.

The court heard he was a father-to-be who would lose his job and home if jailed.

Judge Peter Davies suspended a 12-month prison sentence for two years.

He ordered Bracken, of Wesley Street, Workington, to complete 300 hours’ unpaid work and pay the victim £2,000 compensation.

Judge Davies told Bracken: “Mr Smith is a bricklayer. He may not be able to do that again and that is because you couldn’t keep your temper.

"I regard this as a nasty, cowardly offence in front of the public in a public house.”

Comment on this article

Generate a new code
Comments not OK? Click here to let us know