TV star Mark Wright cleared over club incident
Thursday 04 August 2011
Reality TV personality Mark Wright has been found not guilty of using threatening behaviour towards a man outside a nightclub.
Wright told police he "saw red" after hearing Tom Grantham, 21, say he was going to throw a brick through the window of Deuces Bar and Lounge, an Essex bar in which he had invested money.
A court heard a tussle ensued but Wright, who appears on the series The Only Way Is Essex, claimed he only wanted to protect himself.
The 24-year-old held his head in his hands as he was cleared at Redbridge Magistrates' Court in Essex, and appeared close to tears.
The decision, read out by magistrate Glen Pierre, was applauded by members of his family sitting in the public gallery.
After he was released from the dock, Wright, wearing a grey suit with a white shirt and black tie, embraced his grandfather in the courtroom.
His solicitor said outside court that the television star was "overwhelmed".
Yesterday, Wright's friend Jack Tweed and his brother Lewis admitted common assault in relation to an attack on Mr Grantham on the night in question, January 3. They will be sentenced on August 16 at the same court.
Wright had been "reduced to tears" by previous arson attacks on Deuces, the court heard.
He and Tweed, the widower of Big Brother star Jade Goody, had invested a "substantial amount of money" into the refurbishment of the venue in Chigwell, Essex.
Shortly before the bar was to reopen in October last year, it suffered a "fire bomb" attack and was "completely destroyed" inside, magistrates heard.
It later reopened and on December 31 last year the bar suffered another arson attack.
Four days later, on the night of January 3, Wright, of Abridge, Essex, was standing at the door of Deuces to prevent uninvited people gaining entry.
Wright had been told that Mr Grantham had been "bad-mouthing" Tweed and had denied him access to the bar, the court was told.
As Mr Grantham walked away, Wright heard him say that he would come back and throw a brick through the window, prosecutor Alex Matic said.
Wright told the court: "The bar has been tarnished three times now, I just wanted to know why he said it.
"He said something really aggressive. He said, 'I will knock you spark out'."
He added: "I felt he was going to attack me. His hands were up and coming towards me. I wanted to protect myself."
During police interview Wright told officers he could not remember whether punches were thrown or what was going through his mind but could remember a "tussle".
He added that this sort of behaviour was "not in his nature".
There were between 10 and 15 people in the bar at the time, the court was told.
The court was shown CCTV footage which prosecutor Alex Matic claimed showed Wright swinging his fists at Mr Grantham, but later trying to help the other man get up when he was knocked to the ground in the scuffle that ensued.
Witnesses described Wright as being "calm" in his demeanour, adding that his priority had been to persuade the people who had gathered outside to go back into the club.
Police had been called to the incident by CCTV operators who saw events unfold.
The footage showed Jack Tweed arriving at the bar at 2.37am, only a minute before the fight broke out. Mr Grantham, a builder, was temporarily knocked unconscious in the fracas, the court heard.
Explaining the decision of the panel of three magistrates, Mrs Pierre said: "Mr Wright found himself in the middle of a violent situation, and events happened very quickly.
"We cannot tell from the CCTV if there were punches and if they connected."
She said Wright had given them a "clear account and explanation of his actions", and added: "There is no evidence to contradict Mr Wright's evidence that he felt he was being threatened."
Mrs Pierre added that she could not prove whether or not Wright "had the necessary intention" to use threatening behaviour towards the other man.
Mr Grantham did not attend court to give evidence during the two-day trial.
Simon Gledhill, representing Wright, told the magistrate: "It's a day of relief for Mr Wright after many months of stress and concerns."
Speaking outside the court, Wright said: "I appreciate the consideration of the court in clearing me of this charge.
"I am happy with the verdict which I believe is the correct one.
"I am now looking forward to putting this behind me. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have stood by and believed in me - that includes of course my family and friends, everyone associated with Towie and my legal and management teams."
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