DOORS at a village community centre were locked as users feared an “ugly street brawl” taking place outside might develop into large scale violence.

A handful of youths and young men were involved in the confrontation in Front Street, Sacriston, with others looking on, shortly after 6pm on November 14, 2018.

Durham Crown Court heard three main protagonists were goading each other and scuffling, near the village war memorial.

Chris Baker, prosecuting, said as it moved nearer to the Fulforth Centre, users feared for their welfare, so the caretaker took the precaution of locking the doors.

During the confrontation a 15-year-old youth, known to be a promising boxer, took off his shirt as he clashed with Dyllan John Walker, who removed his jacket.

Mr Baker said both used their feet and fists, while a friend of Walker, Andrew Bowman, encouraged his sidekick and became involved in the violence, in which a wheelie bin was thrown.

Just as tensions briefly lulled, Christopher Conway arrived on the scene and went to the aid of the 15-year-old, kicking another man in the company of Bowman and Walker in the head, knocking him briefly unconscious.

The youth followed with a kick and a stamp to the man’s head.

Mr Baker said several of those involved took part in a previous Front Street confrontation, while police dispersed youths in a further clash.

Walker, 24, of Fulforth Way, and Bowman, 27, of Westwood View, both Sacriston, initially denied affray, but later changed their pleas to guilty.

Conway, 40, of Daleside, Sacriston, and his now 16-year-old co-accused both admitted affray at the plea hearing.

Jamie Adams, for the youth, said due to his “boxing prowess”, trouble sometimes came to him, with people challenging him to fight, but he would not back away.

The court heard he has recently steered clear of trouble due to the prospect of an Army career with offers from three regiments.

Robin Turton, for Walker, claimed the trouble “came to him” that evening as he was with friends going to a shop for provisions, but accepted he should have just walked away.

Tony Davis, for Bowman, said the incident began as “handbags at dawn” and he and his friends were in the throes of walking away when the older man arrived at the scene, leading to a “frenzy of activity in which the violence escalated.”

Mr Davis added that he has been out of trouble since 2015, but was, “in the wrong place at the wrong time” that evening and voiced his opinions to the younger group over their behaviour.

Paul Cross, for Conway, said he tried to de-escalate the violence, but, “didn’t handle it well.”

“He should have rung the police, but tried to handle it, himself.”

Judge James Adkin imposed prison sentences of 13-months on Conway, 16-months each for Walker and Bowman, while the 16-year-old was given a youth referral order to include unpaid work and an exclusion from Front Street, Sacriston, until March 19, after which he hopes to complete his final Army interview.

The judge added it is for the best that he will be out of the area if he takes up one of the Army offers.