A VILLAGE pub has been shut down after a customer had a sawn off shotgun forced into his mouth during a vicious brawl.

Police were called to The Flintlock Inn, in West Cornforth, County Durham, on Monday night (February 26) after a fight broke out between locals and a group of travellers from the Bradford area.

Sgt Tim Robson described the incident as ‘a quite atrocious set of violent offences’ which involved people linked to the pub brandishing weapons and inflicting a catalogue of wounds upon patrons.

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He told Durham County Council’s statutory licensing sub-committee, which met at Chester-le-Street Civic Centre today (Wednesday, February 27), that members of the travelling fraternity, who described themselves as bare knuckle fighters, had been drinking in the pub after attending a funeral in the area.

A row broke out and associates of those running the pub left the premises only to return to the scene wearing ski-masks and carrying weapons.

At least one sawn off shotgun was brandished along with knives and baseball bats.

Injuries sustained on the night included stab and slash wounds, double fractures of the wrist, a wound to the crown of the head and numerous cuts and bruises.

Sgt Robson said: “This was a very serious, nasty heated and protracted assault which took place.

“Clearly retribution is likely if it continues to stay open and we have serious concerns there will be immediate retaliation and violence.”

He also told councillors that the CCTV system which covers the pub was switched off for 40 minutes during the whole violent incident, which he believes was done intentionally by the pub management.

And he said the designated premises supervisor, Nicola Bush, who was not in charge on the night, had shown a ‘lax attitude’ towards the role.

Members of the committee agreed to suspend the Flintlock’s premises licence with immediate effect and remove Nicola Bush as designated premises supervisor.

Coun Colin Carr, chairman of the committee, said: “Taking into account the extremely serious nature of the incident there is no alternative.”

Earlier in the day magistrates sitting at Newton Aycliffe had also granted a closure order for the premises.

Durham police have confirmed that two men and a woman have been arrested in connection with the incident.