A MAN has wept in court after being unanimously acquitted of starting a mass brawl on a packed west Cumbria train.

One passenger on board the Northern Rail service on March 30 last year spoke of seeing "Wild West" violence erupting shortly after it left Whitehaven at 8.30pm.

That train was busy following a Good Friday rugby league game between Whitehaven and Workington Town at the Recreation Ground - which Whitehaven won 14-12 - earlier in the day.

Richard Myers, 44, went on trial at Carlisle Crown Court.

He denied one charge alleging affray, and was accused by the prosecution of "triggering" the trouble.

Prosecutor Tim Evans alleged Mr Myers - who he said had attended the game and "drank a lot of alcohol” - left his seat and approached a group of apparently drunken males.

“He grabbed hold of one of them by the throat, and he punched him a couple of times,” alleged Mr Evans as he opened the case.

“It provoked what was really a mass brawl."

Carlisle Crown Court heard how staff and passengers - including children - witnessed violence involving more than half a dozen men. One bystander likened it to a "Wild West" brawl.

However, Mr Myers refuted the allegations that he sparked it.

He told the court that he actually approached the group of drunken males to calm them down amid exchanges with younger passengers.

Mr Myers recalled drinking six pints during the course of the day.

"I'd not done anything to provoke that, that I can remember. Definitely not," he said in evidence. "I don't recall any interaction or any grabbing or any punching."

Instead, he became a victim of shocking violence which flared.

"He was punched and kicked by others and left in a bleeding state and lost consciousness for a time," prosecutor Mr Evans told jurors during the hearing.

Mr Myers, of Great Clifton, told the court: "I remember falling into the aisle, and then after that I don't remember anything until I was in the ambulance."

After hearing all evidence during the trial, a jury of seven men and five women found Mr Myers unanimously not guilty of alleged affray.

He wept as he left the crown court dock.

Judge Brian Cummings QC said: "That is the end of proceedings, you are free to go."

*Three men who attacked Mr Myers and admit affray will be sentenced on a date to be fixed.