Dad dislocates shoulder at wedding after launching chairs across dancefloor

Michael Stokes
Michael Stokes

SUCH was a dad’s determination to launch chairs across a dancefloor at a wedding that he suffered a dislocated shoulder.

Michael Stokes has become the latest family member to be locked up for his part in a mass brawl which erupted inside a hotel.

The 56-year-old joins eight relatives behind bars for their actions at Daresbury Park Hotel, with the function descending into chaos which was described as a bloodbath.

He could be joined by Robert Reilly, aged 29 and of Colossus Way in Bletchley, who is due to learn his fate later this week.

Michael Stokes appeared to be sentenced at Chester Crown Court yesterday, Monday, after pleading guilty to a charge of violent disorder.

Prosecutor John Philpotts explained how the huge brawl broke out among some 50 wedding guests at the Daresbury venue on June 26, 2019.

By around 11pm, the reception was in full swing, with 150 people expected in the Alice Suite function room on the first floor.

At 11.15pm, a barman saw three men arguing as he left to collect items from the main bar, and when he returned, a huge fight between some 40 men had started.

CCTV footage played in court showed glasses and chairs and glass being hurled across the room, as well as displays being torn down and a sweet cart and tables being overturned.

Police were called after a night porter saw what was happening on CCTV, but the first dispatch of officers withdrew on arrival after taking the view they were unable to deal with the situation alone.

Clockwise from top left: John Christopher Stokes, Stephen Stokes, Brian Stokes, John Steven Stokes and Edward Joseph Stokes
Clockwise from top left: John Christopher Stokes, Stephen Stokes, Brian Stokes, John Steven Stokes and Edward Joseph Stokes

Clockwise from top left: John Christopher Stokes, Stephen Stokes, Brian Stokes, John Steven Stokes and Edward Joseph Stokes

It took a unit of armed back-up officers specially equipped and trained to restore order. A dozen were arrested and gave no comment police interviews.

Around 30 police cars were spotted rushing to the area, according to eyewitnesses, while Warrington Hospital even declared a major incident, with senior management called in during the night to assist.

Ultimately, only three patients were taken to hospital after suffering minor injuries.

Speaking after the incident, one hotel guest said: “It was all kicking off – there were police everywhere, it was really bad.

“I could see it all happening out of my window. There was a massive police presence and it was all cordoned off.

“There is blood all over the floor in the corridor.”

Britannia Hotels, which runs the Daresbury Park Hotel, declined to comment on the matter in the aftermath of the incident. The hotel has since closed to the public in order to house asylum seekers.

From CCTV footage, Stokes can be seen throwing chairs across the room, as well as more than 10 glasses.

He returned to the room after a short period and was spotted throwing another chair and more glasses.

Bodycam footage from police with audio captures loud shouting, with officers heard telling people to calm down, while the footage shows suspects being arrested and handcuffed.

Edward William Stokes, Terry Stokes and Thomas Stokes
Edward William Stokes, Terry Stokes and Thomas Stokes

Edward William Stokes, Terry Stokes and Thomas Stokes

The prosecution described the whole incident as 'mayhem', while judge Simon Berkson remarked how some people in the footage were innocent bystanders, including members of hotel staff and wedding planners – even children and the elderly.

The court heard how more than £16,000 worth of ‘extensive’ damage was caused to the hotel, as well as damage valued in excess of £2,400 to items belonging to the wedding planner.

In a statement, the hotel manager said the incident was the worst he had seen in his career, with too much damage to mention and blood and glass covering the dancefloor and walls.

In addition to the damage, which the court heard had been paid for by the Stokes family, £300 of alcohol was stolen as glass was taken for weapons.

An impact statement from the wedding arranger meanwhile revealed how nine years of stock, which was her livelihood, was destroyed, impacting other weddings planning to hire the items.

Stokes mainly gave no replies during his police interview after initially claiming he was acting in self-defence.

The court heard he has a previous conviction for the same charge of violent disorder in 2013, for which he was jailed for two years, as well as previous convictions for offences of dishonesty.

On the repeat of the violent disorder offence, the judge remarked that Stokes has ‘clearly not learnt his lesson’.

In defence of his client, Dafydd Roberts said that Stokes suffered a significant injury during the violence and had to be treated in hospital.

“The cost of the damage has been repaid, but the defendant is aware of the sentences passed to others, who were not able to buy themselves out of a prison sentence,” he said.

Police at the scene at Daresbury Park Hotel
Police at the scene at Daresbury Park Hotel

Police at the scene at Daresbury Park Hotel

“His last conviction was in 2015 and has not been in trouble since then, so this is not an entrenched pattern of offending.”

The barrister added that Stokes is a working man, whose employer speaks highly of him, and that his family will be impacted by his loss of earnings should he go to prison.

Before sentencing, judge Berkson said: “The events of that day were truly shocking to anyone who saw them. For those present and innocent, one can only imagine the fear.

“What should have been a happy occasion, a wedding, turned into a bloodbath.

“The suite was set up for a celebration, with a DJ playing music, people dancing and enjoying themselves. This came to an end when violence broke out.”

He described how there were punches thrown by the bar as guests cowered, and as violence spilled into the corridors, men armed themselves with furniture, metal poles and fire extinguishers.

“You participated in an incident with widespread violence. It was persistent and sustained, causing serious disruption and a substantial effect on businesses. It ruined the day of the newlywed couple.

“In my judgement, the nature and extent of the event means punishment can only be achieved through immediate imprisonment.

“The public would be rightly aghast if they saw what I have seen and an immediate custodial sentence was not passed.”

Stokes, of Bradfield Close in Crewe, was sentenced to two years in prison, taking the total immediate custodial sentence for those involved to 15 years and 10 months.

Chester Crown Court
Chester Crown Court

Chester Crown Court

Edward William Stokes, aged 28 and of St Giles Street, Milton Keynes, was sentenced to 27 months in prison.

Terry Stokes meanwhile, aged 36 and of Princess Street, Winsford, was jailed for 21 months.

Judge Berkson handed an imprisonment of 25 months to Thomas Stokes, aged 30 and of Glazier Drive, Milton Keynes.

John Christopher Stokes, aged 23 and of Roseville Park in Antrim, was sentenced to 16 months in prison, while Stephen, aged 25 and of Hume Street in Fairfield, was jailed for 20 months.

The court sentenced Brian Stokes, aged 25 and of Bradfield Road in Crewe, to 18 months in jail, while John Steven Stokes, aged 27 and of Ruskin Road in Crewe, was handed an imprisonment of 21 months, and Edward Joseph Stokes, 21 and of Kettall Avenue in Crewe, was locked up for 18 months.

Edward Stokes, aged 50 and also of Kettall Avenue in Crewe, who faced a lesser charge of threatening behaviour, was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison suspended for 18 months and ordered to complete 100 hours of unpaid work.

DC Sophie Davies previously said: “The disorder caused by these men in 30 minutes led to the function room, the items that were borrowed from a company as part of the wedding party and other areas of the hotel being completely destroyed.

“The level of violence involved meant the officers who first attended to the hotel were unable to access the function room to bring the other guests, who were understandably shaken by what was happening, to safety due to having items thrown directly at them.

“The full extent of what happened was captured on CCTV footage from inside the hotel enabling us to see the full scale of the violence from start to finish and showed how much these men were intent on causing harm to each other as well as to others.”

Cheshire Police refused a request to release CCTV footage showing the scale of the disorder.