Murder trial jury hears 999 call made from Great Yarmouth pub

PUBLISHED: 09:48 15 March 2013 | UPDATED: 09:48 15 March 2013

Ian Church who died in Great Yarmouth after an attack May 5, 2012

Ian Church who died in Great Yarmouth after an attack May 5, 2012


A panicked 999 call has been played to murder trial jurors, with a pub worker begging for help as violence erupts.

Five people are accused of murdering 40-year-old Ian Church outside the Bricklayers Arms in the early hours of May 5, 2012, after he and friend Peter Blake allegedly began to smash windows.

The 999 call played to Norwich Crown Court yesterday was made after three windows were smashed at the pub in Nelson Road Central, Great Yarmouth.

Fearful Steven Ryan - a relative of licensee Damian Ryan - believes a man armed with a machete is outside and pleads with the 999 operator to hurry up.

Later in the call it becomes apparent that Mr Church is seriously injured, and a member of his family leaves the courtroom in tears.

Mr Ryan is heard telling the operator: “The guy has got a machete and we’ve got customers here!”

Screaming is heard in the background, and Mr Ryan sounds increasingly anxious.

The operator tells him to stay inside the pub and stay on the line, and assures him “we will come as fast as we can”.

Asked how big the knife is, a breathless Mr Ryan describes it as “a machete”.

“We’ve had three windows put in,” he continued. “I only got a quick look at his face.

“He had an altercation in the pub earlier, we threw him out, he came back and smashed two windows, put them completely through.”

Patricia Lynch QC, prosecuting, said Mr Blake had been punched by defendant Todd Esherwood earlier that evening.

Mr Ryan told the 999 operator that the man smashing the windows was not a regular, adding “it’s the first time he came into the pub”.

Asked if he has tried to calm the man down, he replies “we’ve got several people trying to disarm him”.

After several seconds of silence, he said: “They actually have disarmed him”.

More silence follows.

“Where’s the male now?” asks the operator. “Is someone holding him down?”

Mr Ryan says: “It looks like he’s lying in the road.”

The operator waits while Mr Ryan peers outside the pub to see what has happened.

“No, it looks like someone’s got caught up in this,” says Mr Ryan.

He swears, with terror in his voice.

“One of our regulars got caught up in this,” he said. “His name is Ian. I need an ambulance.”

He says someone is performing CPR on Mr Church and he is “out cold and not breathing”.

Relatives of Mr Church in court are dabbing their eyes with tissues at this point, and one leaves the room.

The operator tells Mr Ryan he is doing “really well” as he asks details about Mr Church, including an approximate age.

As emergency vehicles arrive, the operator says Mr Ryan can go.

Mr Church, 40, never regained consciousness after the attack and five people are accused of his murder.

They are Yarmouth men Todd Esherwood, 24, of Saxon Road, Tony Smith, 29, of Sidney Close, Stuart Layden, 30, of South Quay and Kent pair Kelly Taylor, 33, of Harris Road, Sheerness and Roy Smith, 31, of Ranelagh Road, Sheerness.

All deny murder.

Earlier this week the trial heard former Bricklayers regular Kevin Sharp still has “nightmares” about the attack.

Mr Sharp said he went outside to find the landlord “crying and screaming”, kneeling over the person who was on the ground.

He told the jury it had been a “normal Friday night” in the pub with a “bit of banter” earlier in the evening but the mood had changed to “panic” when the glass started breaking.

He said: “I still have nightmares about what went on” adding “I wouldn’t ever go back in that pub”.

Mr Blake - the friend of Mr Church who was with him the night he died - had previously told the court he only had a “patchy” memory of the night in question.

He could remember being punched in the eye by somebody in the pub, later smashing a window with his baton, and being kicked on the floor, but could not remember when he picked up the baton from his home or why he was assaulted.

Andrew Thompson, for Esherwood, asked Mr Blake if he was telling the truth about his memory, to which Mr Blake said: “I sure am”.

Witness Daniel Glover told the court how he saw a group of about 15 people “put the boot in” after they surrounded Mr Church, and saw him repeatedly kicked as he lay helpless.

He added he had seen Tony Smith jump with both feet onto the head of Mr Church and said: “He jumped up and stamped with both feet on the man’s head.”

Other witnesses described how bar stools were used to hit Mr Church and Mr Blake. Ms Lynch, prosecuting, described the incident as “mayhem”.

The trial - not expected to conclude before April 12 - continues.

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