Man jailed for glass attack in nightclub

A SHEAF of glowing references could not save a young man from prison. A judge said he had no choice but to jail John McErlean after he was found guilty of a nightclub glassing. The 21-year-old had denied responsibility for an attack in The Corn Exchange i

A SHEAF of glowing references could not save a young man from prison.

A judge said he had no choice but to jail John McErlean after he was found guilty of a nightclub glassing.

The 21-year-old had denied responsibility for an attack in The Corn Exchange in Hitchin which left a university student with badly damaged teeth.

Judge Jeffrey Burke QC said he believed McErlean had "gone off the rails" for a short time in early 2006 due to being unable to cope with a potentially fatal stroke his mother suffered.

He described letters from the defendant, his family, friends and former teachers as "the most beautifully worded I have ever seen".

But he said: "This was a nasty and savage attack with a bottle on a man who had done nothing to provoke it and I must pass a custodial sentence."

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McErlean, of Shefford Road, Clifton, was convicted by a jury at Luton Crown Court last month of causing grievous bodily harm with intent on David Kelly on May 1, 2006. Last week, he was jailed for two-and-a-half years.

The judge said there had been a small incident inside the crowded pub and night club, during which McErlean suddenly swung a bottle he was holding straight into Mr Kelly's face. The bottle broke causing serious injuries, which required long term dental treatment.

Maurice Aston, prosecuting, said that at the time of the incident McErlean had been on bail for an offence of supplying cocaine. He was later given an 18-month sentence for that.

Geoffrey Birch, defending, said: "The key to what happened in those few months is that he could just not handle what was happening to his mother and resorted to drugs and alcohol."

He said since being released from custody McErlean has got his life back in order.

"There really is an exceptional situation here and one must ask if there is any real point of sending him back into custody when there is a way of dealing with him that will keep him on the rails," he said.

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