THREE men who carried out a “disgraceful” drunken attack on a pub landlord narrowly escaped immediate prison sentences today (Wednesday January 15).

Edward Mundy, Scott Andrew Butler and Lewis Stephen Hope were among four men who took part in the “frenetic” assault on Philip Nevison, outside The Durham Ox, in Coundon, near Bishop Auckland.

Durham Crown Court heard that it took place shortly after Mr Nevison dealt with an incident in the smoking area of the Collingwood Street pub, ejecting two people and locking the premises, late on August 25, last year.

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Sam Faulks, prosecuting, said less than quarter-of-an-hour later there was a loud banging, so Mr Nevison went out and shouted that whoever was responsible was going to knock the door off its hinges.

But he was set upon by Butler and another man, while Mundy and Hope also joined in the attack, in which the publican was repeatedly punched and kicked.

Mr Faulks said a passer-by intervened to protect Mr Nevison, who suffered concussion, a swelling to the brain, a broken nose and a hand injury.

Mundy, Butler and Hope were arrested, but Mr Faulks said the fourth attacker remains at large and is now thought to be in Wales.

When interviewed, the arrested trio admitted having drunk heavily that day.

Mundy, 24, of Addison Road, Leeholme, near Coundon, Butler, 36, of Anson Walk, Coundon, and 25-year-old Hope, of Holdforth Drive, Bishop Auckland, each admitted assault causing actual bodily harm.

Adrian Dent, for Hope and Mundy, said: “It’s clear they’re very sorry for what happened and they wish to apologise to the complainant and to the court.

“It flared up very suddenly and was not a pleasant incident, but, fortunately, it was over in a short space of time.”

Annelise Haugstad, for Butler, said he has largely been out of trouble for the last ten years and has been, “at pains to change his life.”

Describing it as, “a disgraceful incident”, Recorder Robert Adams imposed eight month prison sentences, suspended for 18 months, with probation supervision for a year, for each of the trio.

They were each given a £150 costs order and £100 statutory surcharge.

Mundy and Hope, who have jobs, were ordered to perform 80-hours’ unpaid work and both must pay £500 compensation.

Butler, who is unemployed, was given 120-hours’ unpaid work, but was excused compensation.