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Aaron Cooper was a doorman at the Fez in Gun Street
A BURLY bouncer who threw a reveller down a flight of stairs and punched another man unconscious in a Reading nightspot has been jailed for more than three years.
Aaron Cooper was a doorman at the Fez in Gun Street when he attacked Bradley Ward, 28, and his pal James Dowling, 27, who were on a night out in the club on October 12, 2003.
The 35-year-old body builder was charged with ABH and GBH after the attack but fled to the United States before being arrested on his return to the country in July this year, Reading Crown Court heard.
Cooper, of Farley View in Spencers Wood, admitted both charges and was sentenced on Tuesday this week.
The court heard Cooper and Mr Ward had bumped into each other on the dance floor and words were exchanged between them at around 1.30am.
Mr Ward gave a “funny look” to the bouncer who reacted by frogmarching the man to the front of the club, said prosecutor Alan Blake.
He said Cooper dragged Mr Ward through some double doors, pushed him down the stairs near the entrance and then ordered him out of the club.
A group of Mr Ward’s friends gathered to remonstrate with the bouncers and Cooper unleashed a ferocious punch on Mr Dowling who collapsed unconscious to the floor.
There were gasps from the victim’s family and friends in the public gallery as the CCTV coverage that captured the incident was replayed in court.
Mr Dowling was out cold for around four minutes but came to after Cooper threw a glass of water over his head, Mr Blake said. He tried to go home in a cab but was in so much pain he was taken to hospital by paramedics where he was found to have a bleed on his brain, the court heard.
Surgeons had to bore two holes into his skull to relieve pressure to his brain and he stayed in hospital for four weeks.
Mr Dowling missed four months of work after the attack and still suffers memory loss and has low self-confidence, Mr Blake said.
Mr Ward needed six stitches to a wound over his left eyebrow and received physiotherapy for an injured shoulder for months after the attack, the court heard.
Nicholas Syfret, defending, said Cooper had “grossly misread the situation” because he had not been himself and was taking anti-depressants.
Cooper, a doorman for 15 years, had lived in the US since 1994 and had come back to England to work for the summer with his American girlfriend but the pair split up leading to his depression.
He absconded to Arizona in the US after being arrested, Mr Syfret said, because that is “where his life was”.
He said Cooper was genuinely remorseful, was of good character and had become a photographer of severe weather conditions in the US.
Sentencing, Recorder Mr Peter Susman said a report made by prison officers about Cooper was the “best he had ever read in 40 years” in the law business.
But he said Cooper had committed a “devastating” attack and sentenced him to 32 months in prison for GBH and two years in prison for ABH, to be served concurrently.
He added six months to the sentence for absconding to America after his arrest. Cooper has already spent five months in custody and will serve half of his sentence before being eligible for parole.
Outside court Mr Dowling said: “I am glad it is finally over and we can move on and get on with our lives.
“It has been hard since it happened.
“A real struggle for a while but I’m better now. We are all just looking forward to a good Christmas now.”
First printed in: Reading Evening Post