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'Big Fat Gypsy Wedding' star avoids jail over 'grudge' brawl


'My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding'
and 'Celebrity Big Brother'
star Paddy Doherty

'My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding' and 'Celebrity Big Brother' star Paddy Doherty

'My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding' and 'Celebrity Big Brother' star Paddy Doherty

'My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding' star Paddy Doherty yesterday received a suspended jail term for his part in a grudge fight in public with another Traveller.

Doherty (52) "fronted up" to Johnny Joyce (21) when he was challenged to a brawl amid an ongoing feud.

Manchester Crown Court heard the former bare-knuckle boxer had brought disapproval from elements of the Travelling community when he complained to police in August 2010 that Joyce had attacked him in an earlier incident .

Joyce was eventually acquitted of assaulting Doherty but the latter's appearance in court as a witness caused "bad blood" between the two families.

Doherty was jogging in Ancoats, Manchester, last June when Joyce came across him. A fight ensued near a retail outlet car park which Doherty got the worse of and culminated with both falling on the floor.

Joyce then sank his teeth into Doherty's left ear and bit off the top part of it.

Insults were spat at Doherty by Joyce's brother, Douglas, who filmed the tussle on his mobile phone. The footage played in court showed the brawl spilling from the car park outside a PC World store and into the busy main road.

Doherty, formerly of Duchy Road caravan park in Salford, pleaded guilty to affray last month. Johnny Joyce admitted a single charge of affray and Douglas Joyce pleaded guilty to a public order offence of using threatening or insulting words or behaviour.

Doherty was due to give evidence as a victim before the prosecution decided to charge all three men.

Sentencing him to 51 weeks in jail -- suspended for two years -- Judge Martin Steiger QC said: "I am persuaded that this is a case where a sentence of imprisonment is called for. Those who fight in public places should be punished but there is significant mitigation in your case to suspend the sentence."

The brothers, from Cherry Avenue, Manchester, will be sentenced on January 13.

'My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding' propelled Doherty to national celebrity status and he won 'Celebrity Big Brother' last year.

Doherty spent five days in Manchester Royal Infirmary and underwent successful reconstructive surgery on his ear after the fracas on June 10. In hospital he gave a statement to police and claimed he was the victim and had acted in self-defence from his cousins who he is related to through their mother.

He told detectives: "I was in fear for my life. Johnny Joyce had previously broken my jaw in seven places. I spent some time on a life support machine."

Referring to the Joyce brothers he said: "They are much younger and bigger than me. I believe they both take steroids.I remain in fear for my life."

Last September Doherty and his sons received an Osman warning from police that their personal safety was in danger.

He has since moved and now lives at a caravan park in Queensferry, North Wales.

Mark Rhind, defending, said his client's appearance in court to testify against Johnny Joyce "all went terribly wrong" as he broke with the tradition of problems being solved within the Travelling community.

"The bad feeling they (the Joyces) felt towards Mr Doherty was maintained and intensified," he explained.

Doherty had five previous convictions for violence and disorder. The judge also ordered him to perform 120 hours of unpaid work and imposed a restraining order which prevented him from contacting the Joyce brothers for a period of two years.

Irish Independent