Gene Appleton Gallagher, 20, and Sonny Starkey, 21, were “young men thinking they can get what they want by misbehaving” when they fought with shop staff, Judge Joanna Greenberg said.
The scuffle began at the store in Heath Street, Hampstead, north-west London shortly before midnight on May 17 2019 when staff tried to stop their friend, former model Noah Ponte, 21, leaving the shop with a £1.70 can of gin and tonic.
Ponte, a student at UCL who has worked for IMG Models, was unable to pay for it because it was outside the hours Tesco was licensed to sell alcohol, Wood Green Crown Court heard.
However, he had paid for nuts of the same value, which he left in the shop, in an attempt to get around the licensing restriction, he told the court.
Staff were said to have started “grabbing” Ponte before an altercation in which prosecutors said Starkey and Gallagher threw “kicks and punches” at one worker, who then managed to get Starkey in a headlock for “some minutes”, the court heard.
All three were charged with affray and Gallagher, whose mother is All Saints member Nicole Appleton, faced an additional charge of racially aggravated assault by beating, while Starkey was charged with two counts of assault by beating.
But at what was meant to be the start of their trial on Wednesday, prosecutors decided to bring no evidence as new evidence had come to light which showed there was a “strong case” Starkey was acting in self-defence and Gallagher was defending him, the court heard.
Ponte was found not guilty of theft at the end of a trial on Friday following 31 minutes of jury deliberation.
CCTV footage showed a member of staff “advancing towards Mr Starkey and Mr Starkey falling out of view, apparently to the ground. Meanwhile, one witness described the member of staff as the “aggressor”, the court was told.
According to a statement from a security guard, while the trio “started it”, staff did not allow him to handle them, something which he said led to the fight, the court heard.
“They came in”, he said, “and the situation went from a situation with me to a fight with all the staff. In my opinion both sides could have handled this situation better.”
Concluding Wednesday’s hearing, Judge Greenberg said to Gallagher and Starkey: “Your behaviour on this occasion when you entered the Tesco store was, in my view, completely out of order.”
She added: “It’s hard enough when people running a late-night store encounter entitled young men thinking they can get what they want by misbehaving, and that’s what you did.”
At the conclusion of Ponte’s trial, she said his actions “invited trouble” and were the “catalyst” for the events that night.
She recorded not guilty pleas in relation to Gallagher and Starkey, and bound over all thee defendants – meaning they have promised to “keep the peace and be of good behaviour” for 12 months or pay £500.
The judge’s comments can now be reported after she lifted a reporting restriction in place until the end of Ponte’s trial.
The court heard how lawyers representing the trio had, in November 2020, attempted to have the charges dismissed, but were unsuccessful except for one charge of common assault faced by Gallagher.