(Picture: Gloucestershire News Service)
Twin brothers have been jailed after they attacked a group of people outside a pub and left one of them scarred for life.
Simon and Michael Long, 47, launched the attack after going out for pre-Christmas drinks with friends and colleagues in Cheltenham town centre on December 20, 2019.
Earlier in the evening they crossed paths with another group of drinkers including Joe Ashton, Adam Newman and Terry Beaver.
The Long brothers got into a fight with Mr Ashton and Mr Beaver, as well as other unknown people, outside a Yates’ bar which was broken up by police.
The Longs left with the intention of getting taxis home – but instead they found Mr Ashton, Mr Beaver and their friends outside the Bank House pub in Clarence Street.
The twins attacked the three men and a woman ‘in a violent fashion’, prosecutor Christopher Smyth told their trial at Gloucester crown court.
All three men were attacked and the woman was knocked to the ground. The brothers then picked up glass beer bottles and wielded one in front of Mr Ashton, who was hit on the head at least twice.
All four people received injuries but Mr Ashton suffered a three centimetre laceration to the left side of his forehead, which required four stitches, a two centimetre bruise to the left side of his face and a further small laceration in the same area that required three stitches and an abrasion to his left eyebrow.
In a victim statement Mr Ashton said: ‘I had never been in a fight in my life. I have been left with a scar and I will have to live with this for the rest of my life.
‘The attack was clearly premeditated. I’ve never felt afraid for my life before. This incident has left me feeling wary about going out in the evening.’
Catherine Spedding, representing Simon Long, said: ‘It wasn’t the Long brothers who were the initial aggressors. They themselves received injuries.
‘A significant factor in all this is the substantial delay he has had hanging over him. If they had been dealt with at the time, they would have completed their sentence and been getting on with their lives.
‘The incident was completely out of character. The punishment on Simon Long will have a detrimental effect on his wider family. He regularly undertakes charity work and is involved with the Salvation Army.’
Simon Kitchen, defending Michael Long, said: ‘“Twenty-one’21 references have been submitted by his friends, family and business contacts. He is a self-employed electrician.
‘Michael Long is a good kind-hearted community spirited man and this incident was completely out of character. He has not re-offended while waiting for this case to be heard.
‘In summary, justice delayed is justice denied. The long delay has diminished the effect a custodial sentence would have had if it had been timely.
‘Ultimately he was not thinking straight because of the injuries he sustained to his face, including a split lip. His finger was also broken and his elbow was chipped and he had other bruising to his head and ribs.
‘He suffered a good beating. He believes it could be a case of mistaken identity as he had no interaction with those in the affray.’
The jury found both Michael, of Milton Road, and Simon Long, of Tennyson Road, guilty of wounding Mr Ashton with intent and being involved in an affray on the same date.
Judge Recorder Emma Zeb told the Long twins: ‘It has taken four years for this case to come to trial, which is a disproportionately long period of time.
‘In part this is because of your not guilty pleas, but equally there are likely to have been other elements contributing to the delay. But all this means the delay is highly unfortunate for all concerned.
‘I am not sentencing you for being involved in the earlier affray, but you were both involved in initiating the violence on the three men and a woman and the events that followed marked the affray for which the jury found you guilty of.
‘The following incident became even more serious as you had each grabbed a glass bottle and approached the group. In particular Michael Long can be seen in a recording taken by a nearby observer wielding a bottle over the head of Mr Ashton. It is this part of the incident which led to the wounding with intent as the victim was struck in the head on one or two occasions.
‘This was a night that got very out of hand, causing the two of you to receive very serious convictions. You armed yourselves in a way with glass bottles that you clearly felt justified and knowing the damage they could cause.
‘Throughout your trial you both denied being the perpetrators of the incident outside the Bank House pub. You maintained that you only acted in self defence, but it is obvious the jury did not accept this explanation.
‘In my judgement the incident outside the Bank House pub was not entirely one-sided. There is evidence that the others in the group showed some violence being used. However your actions were wholly out of proportion and unjustifiable.’
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