Paintball rage led to violent assaults

Brett Ravenhill with his false leg ang tag attached
Brett Ravenhill with his false leg ang tag attached

A VOLLEY of shots made at close range during a paintball game, led a player to attack others in a fit of rage, a court heard.

One-legged Bret Ravenhill, 32, faced three charges of assault at Sheffield Crown Court, along with a separate charge of criminal damage.

The Great Houghton man hit the headlines three years ago, when his detachable false leg was mistakenly electronically tagged for a three-months curfew order, following a drugs offence.

The shots fired at him on December 3 at Bawtry Paintball Fields, Doncaster, caused the defendant to react in “an extremely angry fashion”, said prosecution Stephanie Hollis.

Ravenhill first swung a gun at a 14-year old before knocking him to the ground. Then, when asked to calm down by 25-year old marshal Ian Duffy, he grabbed his lapel before punching his face and knocking his protective mask off.

Mr Duffy radioed for help as Ravenhill armed himself with a stick and told him: “don’t do anything stupid or I’ll stab you in the neck”. A 16-year old was also punched by the livid paintballer.

When he was arrested later, Ravenhill claimed he had stood up following the volley of shots aimed at him, with “tunnel vision”. He was angry because he felt the game rules had been breached, he said.

The court was told how the 32-year old had lost his father six days before the attack, to leukaemia, and this had left him in a fragile state.

Judge Peter Kelsen QC also heard how Ravenhill had on January 4 visited the home of a former 22-year old girlfriend. Their five-week relationship had ended on Boxing Day. At home with her young son, she had heard a loud bang and witnessed Ravenhill outside, beating her car with an iron bar, smashing the windows and bodywork and ultimately slashing all the tyres.

Ravenhill said on his arrest that he lost his temper because of presents he had given his ex-girlfriend during their relationship. He inflicted £2,346 worth of damage.

Defence Robert Sandford said that Ravenhill had not realised two complainants in the paintball incidents were aged 14 and 16 because they had worn masks. Mercifully, he said, no serious injury was sustained.

With regard to the criminal damage, Ravenhill had hoped to retrieve a mobile telephone from his ex-girlfriend. His failure to get the phone back triggered his temper, although his subsequent actions could not be justified, he conceded.

Ravenhill was experiencing the “heightened emotions that go with the bereavement of a close relative”, he said, which offered some explanation for his short fuse on both mentioned occasions. In 2002 Ravenhill was involved in a motor accident that cost him his left lower leg and the main use of an arm, added the lawyer.

Ravenhill had given full co-operation to police and had genuine remorse, that was coupled with immediate guilty pleas, said Mr Sandford.

Judge Kelsen said he took in to account the tragic loss of Ravenhill’s father, but told the forklift truck driver; “I’m afraid your behaviour on the paintball field was absolutely appalling”, adding that people do end up getting shot at in such establishments, and that at short range this can hurt and cause bruises.

But, he added: “This does not justify what you did”.

“You attacked a 14-year old using a weapon and caused him such pain that he went to hospital”, said the judge. “Then you set about a member of staff and completely lost your temper, and struck a 16-year old youth”.

Paintball establishments are professional places with strictly applied rules, said Mr Kelsen, who then referred to Ravenhill’s long string of previous convictions. In April last year he received a 36-week prison term for affray, suspended for two years, after a punch-up in a Wombwell take-away.

The criminal damage following his short-lived relationship was an “appalling action when you caused as much damage as you could”, Ravenhill was told.

He was handed a 12-months jail term comprising six months for the assaults with two months to run concurrently for criminal damage and six months from his former suspended sentence. He was prohibited from contacting his former girlfriend, or from going near her home for five years.

*Bret Ravenhill was 29 when his false leg was tagged to ensure he obeyed a curfew.

The security worker who fitted the device failed to notice his detachable leg, that went unnoticed for four weeks despite nightly tag checks.

Ravenhill never broke his curfew but said at the time he could have been ‘living it up’ without anyone ever knowing.