In court over `Dodge City` restaurant brawl

THE brother of Great Britain rugby league player Stuart Fielden has appeared in court for brawling in a Halifax restaurant.

Former professional prop forward James Fielden, 28, and another professional player, Daniel Ekis, 25, turned Ziggy's Spice House at Carlton Street, Halifax, into a scene out of Dodge City.

A witness said "It was like something out of the movies" as the pair overturned tables, threw chairs and began punching their victim, Dean Croad.

Fielden, of Westfield, Old Town, Hebden Bridge, and Ekis, of Cleveley Gardens, Mytholmroyd, pleaded not guilty to affray but guilty to threatening behaviour.

They were given 12 month community orders with a 70 hour unpaid work requirement and were ordered to pay 300 each towards prosecution costs.

Bradford Crown Court heard the offence happened on May 2 when Fielden, Ekis and three women went to the restaurant to order a take-away.

Fielden, who has played for Bradford Bulls, London Broncos, Keighley, Huddersfield and Doncaster, and Ekis, who has played for Halifax Academy and Keighley and now plays professionally for Hunslet, Leeds, as a prop forward, began "play fighting" in the restaurant.

David McGonigal, prosecuting, said: "They were rolling about on the floor and punching each other quickly but apparently, not hurting each other."

As they were leaving, Fielden allegedly made a comment to one of the women.

Another customer, Mr Croad, took exception and told Fielden not to talk to her like that.

"Fielden went over to him and is described as shouting, swearing and throwing punches," said Mr McGonigal. A third man, Martin St John Heath, 33, of Broadway, Southowram, Halifax, who was later charged with affray, attempted to calm the situation.

A formal not guilty verdict was later recorded against him after Mr McGonigal admitted he had been wrongly identified.

"Ekis rugby tackled Mr Heath to the ground, sat on top of him and punched him to the face and chest," said Mr McGonigal.

"Tables and chairs were thrown by both defendants – they were thrown either at or towards Mr Croad." Mr Croad was chased from the premises but Fielden and Ekis returned and Mr Heath was attacked.

They left again but were arrested when they returned.

Fielden's brother, Stuart, who as well as being an international star, also

plays for Wigan Warriors, was present throughout

the incident but did not

get involved and apologised to staff for the behaviour of the others.

Nick Askins, for Ekis, said it was a "disgraceful incident" while Chris Batty, for Fielden, said: "He is very much ashamed of his behaviour."

They have since apologised to the restaurant and paid 500 for the damage.

Judge Christopher Prince said their behaviour

was "aggressive and annoying."

He said: "You engaged in real fighting – throwing punches, chairs and tables – certainly behaviour enough to have a very frightening effect on other people in the premises."