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Men who threw chemicals at another man during “frightening” street brawl are jailed

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Three men have today been jailed for a total of five years for brawling in York city centre with weapons, including a bottle of ammonia.

Jailed: Simon Turner

The incident took place between York Minster and Museum Gardens in broad daylight.

It happened in April 2018 in the presence of many members of the public.

York Crown Court, where the defendants were sentenced today, heard that Lee Thomas approached Simon Turner and Christopher Norton at the junction between Duncombe Place and Museum Street in York at around 7pm.  A violent altercation involving weapons followed.

Thomas punched Norton repeatedly and threw him to the ground.  Turner removed a bottle of ammonia from his rucksack and threw the contents at Thomas before putting the bottle down.

Thomas removed a large heavy duty bike chain from his body and waved it at Norton and Turner, although he did not hit them with it.

Norton picked up the bottle used by Turner and squirted more of its contents at Thomas. Norton and Turner left the scene.

Jailed: Lee Thomas

Thomas suffered discomfort and had to pour water over his face to wash away the ammonia but he suffered no injuries or burns.  The fight caused traffic to stop and caused several members of the public to fear for their safety.

Thomas was arrested at the scene and Norton and Turner were arrested the following day.  Thomas’ clothing was forensically examined and ammonia was found.

On 13 March this year, Simon Turner, 38, and Christopher Norton, 38, pleaded guilty to affray and possession of an offensive weapon in a public place, namely the bottle containing a solution of ammonia.

On 2 September this year, Lee Thomas 44 finally pleaded guilty to affray.  All three men were remanded in custody pending sentencing.

Today, a judge at York Crown Court jailed all three men and described the ammonia as a “deeply unpleasant and cowardly weapon”, the use of which will attract a custodial sentence.

Jailed: Christopher Norton

Simon Turner, previously of Beaconsfield Street, York, received a total sentence of 27 months.  His sentence reflected that he had brought the bottle of ammonia to the scene.

Christopher Norton, of no fixed address, received a total sentence of 22 months; this included a sentence for failing to attend court at an earlier hearing.

Lee Thomas, previously of Burdyke Avenue, York, received a total sentence of 12 months; this included a sentence for purchasing a stun gun for his partner Sarah Tams.

Sarah Tams, 47, received a custodial sentence of six months for possession of the stun gun together with a rehabilitation requirement.  Tams’ custodial sentence was suspended for a year in light of a medical report.

In July last year, police attended her home.  A non-lethal stun gun was recovered – it was designed to inflict pain but not lasting injury.

Tams admitted to possession of the stun gun.  Thomas admitted using his bank card and an on-line account to purchase the stun gun for Tams.

Detective Constable Al Foy, of York CID, said: “The fight between Thomas, Turner and Norton was a frightening incident for the members of the public present, with ammonia being thrown and a heavy-duty chain brandished.  I would like to thank the many members of the public who gave statements to the police and who attended court to give evidence.

“It was fortunate that no one was seriously injured during the incident.  As the judge said, Turner and Norton had no idea of the strength of the ammonia or its likely effect when they threw it into Thomas’ face.

“York is a safe city and the immediate custodial sentences given to Turner, Thomas and Norton make it an even safer place.”

Last modified: September 19, 2019