BBC presenter guilty of attack

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The Independent Online

A BBC presenter was found guilty today of wounding a teenager with a large wooden pole.



Midlands Today reporter Ashley Blake was convicted of unlawful wounding at Birmingham Crown Court after swinging a patio umbrella pole above his head and striking 17-year-old Greg Jones in the face at an 18th birthday party at the pub Blake then owned, The Place II B in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands.

The 40-year-old, who also works on the Inside Out current affairs show, was acquitted of an alternative charge of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm but was also found guilty of intending to pervert the course of justice by throwing the pole into a neighbouring garden centre in an attempt to conceal it from police.



The jury heard Blake ran to fetch the pole - measuring about 3ft long and one-and-a-half inches wide - from behind the bar after customer Steven Sproule punched 17-year-old Adam Finn in the face on January 25, leaving him unconscious on the ground.

Mr Finn's friends became angry and upset following the attack.



The court heard Mr Jones was trying to calm the situation when he was attacked by Blake.



Prosecutor Naomi Gilchrist said: "Greg Jones asked him (Blake) to call an ambulance.



"He did not hear a response. He then noticed the defendant was holding a pole in his hands.



"As he noticed the pole the defendant swung the pole above his head and hit Greg Jones in the face with it."



Mr Jones suffered facial injuries to his lip and his chin.



Police arrested Blake at the scene after witnesses told them he was responsible for the attack.



Blake told jurors he used the pole, normally used to secure the pub's door, as a "bat" to fend off bottles, ashtrays and broken-up furniture being hurled at him by a crowd of up to 30 people.



But when initially quizzed in police interview, Blake had denied getting the pole at all.



He told the jury he was "tired, scared and in a state of shock" and had initially lied to police in interviews.



Judge Peter Carr warned Blake he faced a possible jail sentence.



He told him: "You have been convicted of a serious offence which involved wounding a young man.



"The almost inevitable outcome for a case such as this is a prison sentence and I warn you that that is the most likely outcome."



Speaking after the verdict, Blake said: "I can't believe it. There are no words to describe how I'm feeling right now.



"(I am) just gutted, absolutely gutted - and all because I did a favour for someone to host their party there.



"It's all over, isn't it? My job - everything."



Steven Jones, the father of Blake's 17-year-old victim, said outside court: "I'm just pleased Ashley Blake got what he deserves. He lied to the police, he lied on several occasions.



"My son is walking around with a scar for the rest of his life.



"The judge has done his job. I just hope the sentence reflects the crime."



Steven Sproule, 38, of Booths Farm Road, Great Barr, Birmingham, has pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm.



He and Blake are due to return to Birmingham Crown Court on September 2 for sentencing.



Caroline Boots, head of communications at BBC Birmingham, said outside court: "Ashley has been found guilty of a serious offence and we will need to carefully consider the findings of today's court proceedings before taking action."