Darren Butterfield escapes jail for assault at barbecue - after a row about a bowl of noodles

Darren Butterfield court case
Darren Butterfield court case

A drunken former RAF man attacked the host of a family barbecue - causing serious injury - after flying into a rage when the victim’s wife rebuked him for eating noodles out of a communal bowl.

Darren Butterfield, 34, struck out after the female host got the needle over some noodles which the sozzled ex-military man had drunkenly devoured without using a plate during the family get-together near Falsgrave.

Butterfield - who had also insulted one of the guests with a scurrilous and deeply-offensive remark - took umbrage at the rebuke and later marched over to the male host on the “long” driveway, York Crown Court heard.

He punched the victim in the throat then struck him with two more blows to the ear, which was “ripped” and grazed, said prosecutor Rob Galley.

The victim fell sideways after the blow to the neck and grazed his arm on a wall. Butterfield struck him again after the victim told him he had “disrespected” his wife.

“The argument (involving Butterfield and the victim’s wife) was over some noodles or communal food which shouldn’t have been split up or eaten communally out of the communal bowl,” added Mr Galley.

Police were called and the victim was taken to Scarborough Hospital, then transferred to York District Hospital, where doctors had “extreme” concerns for his voice box from the blow to the throat.

An X-ray revealed a fracture to his thyroid cartilage and a cut to his outer ear which required stitches. An exploratory operation showed there was damage to the ligament and muscle fibres in the larynx.

The victim was given steroids and anti-biotics intravenously and was kept in hospital overnight. He was discharged the following day but had to go back in for a series of outpatient

appointments.

He said his family had been greatly “upset” by the incident and he was still in pain.

“He said his voice is not the same,” added Mr Galley. “He said his ear made him self-conscious; it looked like an earring had been ripped out, even though he didn’t wear one.”

He had also suffered bruising to his jaw and had to have dental treatment costing over £830 following damage to his root canal. It had also cost him his job.

Butterfield - then of Stepney Avenue, Scarborough, but now living in Scotland - admitted assault occasioning actual bodily harm and wounding without intent and appeared for sentence on Friday.

The court heard that the unsavoury incident occurred on August 25 last year, when friends, family and work colleagues of the hosts had gathered for the summer food party on the outskirts of Scarborough.

“The defendant drunk quite heavily: about four-to-five pints,” said Mr Galley. “The (male host) and his colleague went to speak to the defendant, asking him to calm down.

“It was apparent that his wife had difficulties with the defendant. He had been eating out of a communal bowl rather than using plates. She confronted him and he became abusive.”

Enraged Butterfield told his partner they were leaving, and he was making his way off the drive when the victim went to remonstrate with him about his conduct towards his wife.

“The defendant dropped a can or bottle on the floor which smashed and approached (the victim), punching him to the neck,” added Mr Galley. “There was a substantial loss of his voice.”

The court heard that Butterfield - who at the time was working alongside the victim at a factory in Scarborough - had no previous convictions but was once fined for common assault during the course of military service in Surrey.

Defence barrister Alexandra Sutton said Butterfield had since moved to Scotland and had got a new job. He was remorseful.

Judge Simon Hickey told Butterfield: “This was a disgraceful piece of behaviour given your background (as a member of the armed forces). You are ordinarily a decent, hard-working man who served his country. I don’t know what came over you.”

Mr Hickey added: “There was extreme concern about (the victim’s) voice box and whether there would be permanent damage.”

Butterfield was given a nine-month suspended prison sentence with 100 hours’ unpaid work and ordered to pay the victim £1,500 compensation.