Five men launched a "persistent" and "cowardly" attack on two other men following an incident in a nightclub which started over a cigarette.

Thomas Carswell, 37; Sebastian Denwood, 28; Taylor Hawcroft, 24; Reece McMillan, 29; and Luke Turner, 29, all appeared at Preston Crown Court in relation to an incident in Blackpool.

On the evening of October 2, 2021, the victims in this case, Rhys Bourne and William Johnson, were at the Soul Suite nightclub in Blackpool to celebrate Johnson’s father’s birthday.

Lancashire Telegraph: Luke TurnerLuke Turner (Image: Lancashire Police)

Prosecuting, David Clarke said Mr Bourne, a smoker, went upstairs to a smoking shelter where he was approached by a man he did not know and was asked for a cigarette, which he declined.

This prompted an argument between the two in which Mr Bourne was called a “tight c**t” and was then told “there’s loads of us down here so shut your mouth or you’ll get a thrashing.”

Mr Bourne was then struck to the back of the head by one of the five before being hit again to the front.

He had his clothing pulled over his head and was pulled to the ground where he was subjected to a sustained assault where people punched, stamped, and kicked at him.

Lancashire Telegraph: Reece McMillanReece McMillan (Image: Lancashire Police)

Mr Johnson saw the argument unfolding and attempted to stick up for his friend, but he was then attacked in the same way.

CCTV footage played at Preston Crown Court showed the assault taking place and highlighted each of the five defendants and their roles in the attack.

The defendants had been out celebrating with other friends and having a celebratory drink before two of their friends moved to Australia.

Carswell was initially seen punching Mr Johnson before turning his attention to Mr Bourne, delivering a “concentrated flurry of punches” Mr Clarke said.

McMillan was seen delivering two kicks to Mr Bourne and seen with Mr Johnson in a headlock.

Lancashire Telegraph: Sebastian DenwoodSebastian Denwood (Image: Lancashire Police)

Denwood appeared to kick out at Mr Johnson, Hawcroft was seen punching the victims to the head, and Turner was seen kicking and stamping on Mr Johnson.

Mr Clarke said: “Whilst Carswell is more immediately apparent, the overall impression is each defendant was determined to attack the victims. As a consequence, each victim sustained injuries.

“Mr Bourne sustained a black right eye, bruising to the head, cuts to the inside of his mouth, a bruised nose, and a bruised leg.

“Mr Johnson had a CT scan which confirmed fractures to bones on the left of his face, as well as swelling to that area, and a 2cm cut to his left eyebrow.

“He needed two weeks off work and lost a gold chain valued at £2,000.”

Lancashire Telegraph: Taylor HawcroftTaylor Hawcroft (Image: Lancashire Police)

Mr Clarke also read each of the victim personal statements.

Relating to Bourne, he said: “Prior to the attack I was a happy, confident, and outgoing person. But due to the trauma I am none of the above.

“It scares me to this day. It was a pack of animals with the intent of beating me to death.”

For Johnson, he said: “Since the attack happened to me on what should have been my yearly trip to Blackpool; my life has been turned upside down.

“I should still be the happy, confident, social man I always was. What has been left is a shadow of what I used to be.

“Sadly I don’t think I’ll ever return to the old me.”

Each of the defendants gave no comment interviews.

Mitigating for Carswell, Mark Stuart said: “This was undoubtedly a very unpleasant and ugly incident which occurred.

"He behaved badly, of which there is no doubt and I am not going to seek to blame the victims at all.

“He is highly thought of by his employers. He is described as loyal, honest, and trustworthy. He is remorseful and is not seeking to blame others.”

Lancashire Telegraph: Thomas CarswellThomas Carswell (Image: Lancashire Police)

Tom Lord, mitigating for Denwood, who has a previous conviction for common assault, said: “It’s an embarrassing incident, he feels no pride having been confronted with that CCTV. He feels ashamed, he should be ashamed.

“In this case the pre-sentence report does allude to a significant degree of remorse and total abstinence from alcohol since this incident.

“There is a good prospect of rehabilitation as demonstrated by a previous conviction where he received a community order which he completed without breach.”

Niamh Ingham, mitigating for McMillan, said: “This is very clearly an unpleasant and senseless act of violence. He is ashamed and remorseful for what he did.

“He has since stopped drinking and refrained from smoking cannabis. There is a realistic prospect of rehabilitation.”

Kimberley Obrusik, mitigating for Hawcroft, said: “He was the youngest of the group by some years and it is an offence that he in his own words describes as disgusting behaviour towards another human being.

“As a young man who has no previous experience of custody, perhaps the best way to rehabilitate him is through the probation service.”

Virginia Hayton, mitigating for Turner, said: “He was only involved with one of the complainants.

"He has previous good character and he is deeply ashamed of not only placing himself in court also the embarrassment he has caused to his loved ones.”

All five defendants were originally charged with causing grievous bodily harm with intent and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

They entered not guilty pleas to these offences but did plead guilty to violent disorder, which was accepted by the Crown.

Sentencing, Judge Ian Unsworth said: “This case arises from an outbreak of violence at a Blackpool music and dance club.

“Each of you travelled in a group from the Blackburn and Accrington area. You had each been drinking alcohol.

“You happened upon Mr Bourne. He was smoking in a designated shelter. For no good reason, he was the subject of verbal abuse and threats.

“This was a cowardly and shameful outbreak of violent disorder. Your victims were subject to punches, kicks, and stamps. Their injuries could have been catastrophic or even fatal.

“This was a persistent attack in which your two victims were relentlessly pursued through the club. Each was shown no mercy. When each tried to get up, they were put down again.”

Carswell, of Tunstall Drive, Accrington, was sentenced to two years and three months in prison.

McMillan, of Sunnybank Drive, Oswaldtwistle; and Denwood, of Station Road, Accrington, were each sentenced to two years in prison.

Turner, of Percy Street, Accrington, was sentenced to one year and nine months in prison.

Finally, Hawcroft, of Blackburn Road, Blackburn, was sentenced to 18 months in prison.