Online abuse led to violent assault

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AN exchange of abuse on Facebook led to a man being assault at his Blackpool home.

Minutes after the last entry was posted on the social networking site, Andrew Pearson turned up at the address.

He went on to assault Ryan Skelly, causing him a broken nose, several chipped teeth and a facial cut that needed stitches.

Pearson, 26, of Buchanan Street, Blackpool, was given a suspended jail term when he appeared at Preston Crown Court yesterday.

Pearson had pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm over the events in February.

Austin Welch, prosecuting, said in his basis of plea, the defendant claimed an ongoing dispute between him and the other man had come to a head that night.

Mr Skelly was in a relationship with a woman at the time of the offence. Pearson was in a relationship with her sister.

On February 20, Pearson and Mr Skelly got involved in an exchange over Facebook.

This included the comment posted by the defendant: “If you’ve got a problem, I’ll meet you right now.”

About five minutes later Mr Skelly heard a knock at his front door.

His girlfriend went to answer. Pearson was demanding Mr Skelly come outside.

Mr Skelly approached the door, but turned to go back in, saying it was nothing to do with him, after the defendant told him “come out here then”.

He was then punched to the face by Pearson and there were other punches as well.

As a result of the violence, Mr Skelly sustained a broken nose, four chipped teeth, cuts to the bridge of his nose and cuts to an eyebrow that needed four stitches.

Pearson had previous convictions involving violence.

Peter Horgan, defending, said Pearson had gone round to the address to “sort matters out”.

Mr Horgan added: “He reacted to the situation and assaulted the other man.

“Although the injuries were quite nasty, there have been no long term physical consequences for the complainant. On face value, an immediate custodial sentence would be well deserved.

“But there is a gap of some years since he had such a loss of control of his temper”.

Pearson was given 44 weeks jail, suspended for two years, with two years supervision.

In addition, for three months he will be on a nightly curfew from 8pm to 8am.

Judge Christopher Cornwall said there had been an uncivilised exchange of abuse on Facebook.

He told the defendant “It seems wildly unrealistic to come to any conclusion, other than you expected there to be violence that night.

“There was no prospect whatever of any sort of sensible discussion occurring between two men who, minutes earlier, had been abusing each other over Facebook”.

Pearson was told to pay £250 prosecution costs.

He was made the subject of a two year restraining order not to contact Mr Skelly or his girlfriend.