London

Ex-PC fined for racially aggravated attack on club doorman

A former police officer who hit a doorman in a racially aggravated attack after being denied entry to a nightclub has been fined £1,510.

James Balneaves, 29, who was based in Brent, has resigned since pleading guilty to the assault.

The attack came when the PC, his girlfriend and a colleague were denied entry to the club on 19 October.

Westminster Magistrates' Court heard they were stopped because Balneaves's girlfriend appeared drunk.

Bravery awards

Prosecutor Jonathon Swain said the doorman, referred to as Mr Ahmed in court, was working at the Opal Nightclub at Embankment when he stopped the off-duty police officer.

Mr Ahmed enquired whether Balneaves had a booking, to which he replied: "No, but our friends are inside. Do you do a police discount?"

Balneaves kept asking about a discount despite Mr Ahmed explaining his reason for stopping them.

The ex-officer became agitated and showed his warrant card when the doorman began filming the argument.

When Mr Ahmed and a colleague physically removed him from the club's entrance, Balneaves yelled, "Get off me bloody foreigner", before punching him twice which caused a cut to the doorman's lip.

Defence lawyer Mark Lake said Balneaves and his girlfriend had each had a bottle of wine before arriving at the club and he acknowledged she was intoxicated.

But the filming of the argument proved to be the "catalyst" for the former officer, Mr Lake said.

Balneaves was a man of good character and had received two bravery awards and was injured while on duty.

Mr Lake said: "In many ways, this is a tragedy. A few moments of madness... and he's thrown away his career.

"That is a terrible consequence for him and one he's going to regret for the rest of his life."

In sentencing, Judge Nick Evans told Balneaves: "It's a sad story when somebody in your position comes to this court and pleads guilty to this offence."

Balneaves was fined £750 for the racially aggravated assault and ordered to pay £600 as compensation to the victim, along with bearing the costs of the case.

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