A brute said ‘you don’t talk to people like that in Banbury’ to someone he met in a strip club - then later set his pals on the man and his friends.

Thomas Reeves, 28, was branded a ‘thug’ for his part in what a judge at Oxford Crown Court described as an unprovoked attack outside the Venus club in Banbury town centre.

Recorder John Bate-Williams said: “You were without doubt the instigator of the violence.

“As the ringleader of the group you [issued] a despicable rallying cry to your companions and your friends were no doubt encouraged to join the fight that you started before, on your basis of plea, you left them to it.”

The court was told Reeves was out at Venus bar, a ‘gentleman’s club’ in Broad Street, Banbury, on August 31, 2019.

Another man exchanged pleasantries with him, earning a rebuke from Reeves. Squaring up to the stranger, Reeves told him: “That’s not how you talk to people in Banbury, mate.”

A few minutes later, the other man told Reeves that he and his friends wanted no trouble. Reeves repeated his bizarre claim: ‘You don’t talk to people like that in Banbury.”

The stranger’s group left the bar but were set upon by Reeves and around seven friends at the end of Marlborough Road.

After swapping angry words, Reeves punched the man in the face.

In the brawl that ensued, someone’s head was stamped on and members of the smaller group suffered broken bones and teeth.

Sentencing Reeves to 15 months’ imprisonment suspended for two years, Recorder Bate-Williams described the stamping as ‘a completely disgusting act which could have caused severe or fatal injuries’. He added: “You, in my view, are fortunate in facing an affray charge as opposed to a manslaughter or attempted murder [charge].”

The judge raged: “This was a completely unprovoked attack by you leading a large group of thugs, which in my judgement just demonstrated what cowards you really were, attacking a smaller group who were clearly outnumbered. That group was not looking for trouble and they’d made that completely clear.”

He ordered the defendant carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and up to 20 rehabilitation days. He must pay £4,000 in compensation to five victims and £425 costs. An order bans him from any licensed premises within three miles of Banbury town centre for six months.

Reeves, of Abbey Road, Banbury, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to affray. In mitigation, he was said to be working and his partner was expecting a baby.

He had a number of convictions for violence, including obstructing a police officer a month before the brawl, but had not been in trouble since 2019.


Thomas Reeves outside Oxford Crown Court


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