Statement by Mr. Edward C Aylward
Of the incident in the club on Saturday 25th. September 1999
In the middle of the evening, I noticed that Mr. Bob Stephens was speaking to Mr. Johnston. Mr. Bob Stephens appeared to be angry but Mr. Johnston was laughing. Mr. Bob Stephens walked back to his seat near me. I asked what had happened. Mr. Bob Stephens explained that he had noticed that two people were standing at the bar and smoking. He pointed out that they were standing beside the notice that said that there was no smoking at the bar.
He continued by saying that he had brought this to the attention of Mr. Johnston as he was a senior member of the committee. I agreed with Mr. Bob Stephens that he had done the correct thing.
In the conversation with Mr. Bob Stephens it emerged that he had complained to Mr. Johnston as Mr. Johnston had tried to resolve a complaint two weeks previously regarding swearing during the playing of the artist's number, "Alice! Alice! Who the "heck" is Alice?" Mr. Bob Stephens believed that Mr. Johnston had acted incorrectly.
I then had reservations regarding his approach to Mr. Johnston, as there was the suggestion that there was another motive for involving Mr. Johnston. It would have been advisable to speak to the duty committee man.
A few minutes after Mr. Bob Stephens had sat down, Mr. Johnston came over, and in a loud voice told Mr. Bob Stephens that he objected to Mr. Bob Stephens swearing at him, and that Mr. Bob Stephens was to drink up and get out. He also told him that the staff were to be instructed not to serve him. Mr. Bob Stephens asked Mr. Johnston if he were the duty committee man. Mr. Johnston said that it did not matter and that he was telling Mr. Bob Stephens to drink up and get out.
Mr. Johnston returned to his seat and Mr. Bob Stephens and I discussed what had happened. We agreed that Mr. Johnston had no authority to act as he did in order to resolve his argument with Mr. Bob Stephens. Mr. Johnston should have made his complaint to the duty committee man.
I went to the bar and ordered a drink for myself and one for Mr. Bob Stephens. The bar staff know what I normally drink and at first refused to give me Mr. Bob Stephens's drink. I said that the drink was for me and I was asked if I was lying. To protect the bar staff I lied and repeated that the drink was for me and I was served.
Mr. Johnston was watching what I did, and came over and shouted again at Mr. Bob Stephens and several times repeated the general gist as above. I pointed out that I did not believe that he had the authority to act as he was doing. He told me to keep out of it and if I didn't then he would tell me to drink up and get out. This worried me as I am not very able to deal with stress. I am on medication for my heart.
It then became obvious to me that Mr. Johnston was intent on provoking a physical response. I spoke to Mr. Bob Stephens and told him to ignore Mr. Johnston. We did this, and when, several times, Mr. Johnston came over, shouting at us, we just ignored him and talked about our holidays. This caused Mr. Johnston to become extremely incensed and he shouted that he was calling the police to eject Mr. Bob Stephens.
At about this point a committee member came over and tried to persuade Mr. Johnston to return to his seat. It did appear that Mr. Johnston was affected by drink. Mr. Johnston stayed and continued to shout over the committee man while he was speaking to Mr. Bob Stephens. I also explained what had happened. The committee man did not ask Mr. Bob Stephens to leave.
Eventually Mr. Johnston returned to his seat. When a friend came in I asked him to get a drink for myself and Mr. Bob Stephens. Later I got two beers for Mr. Bob Stephens and I. Mr. Johnston then came over exhibiting the behaviour of a psychopathic megalomaniac. He shouted, gesticulated, and tried to grab the glass out of Mr. Bob Stephens's hand. I know that Mr. Bob Stephens has bad arthritis of his hand as he cannot carry a full pint glass. He was squeezing Mr. Bob Stephens's hand.
I reached over and took the glass by the top, Mr. Johnston still had hold of Mr. Bob Stephens's hand. As I took the glass Mr. Johnston released his grip on Mr. Bob Stephens and grabbed my hand that was round the glass and squeezed it very hard. I t was painful! I was frightened, as if the glass broke I would have suffered bad cuts. Mr. Bob Stephens then tried to release Mr. Johnston's grip on my hand. Mr. Johnston shook our hands and the glass violently, and the beer spilt onto the table. Mr. Johnston then stood back and said that now there was no beer to drink!
Later the duty man came in and I listened to Mr. Bob Stephens explain. I then spoke to the duty man and I decided that it was in the interests of the club that this matter be brought to the attention of the committee. I made a brief statement to the duty man in that my complaint was about the conduct of Mr. Johnston. The Duty Log was not available so I wrote a brief statement on a piece of paper and the duty man and I signed it.
At no time did any of the committee members present aid Mr. Johnston in evicting Mr. Bob Stephens. Indeed judging by their demeanour, they were embarrassed by his behaviour. One comment was that Mr. Bob Stephens had upset "the wrong person."
I usually enjoy my walk home from the club. But I was shaken by the incident and asked for a lift from a friend.
On reaching home I considered calling the police and asking their advice as to whether a statutory assault had taken place. What stopped me was the thought of the ensuing legal action and my ability to deal with it. I had a sleepless night.
I have typed this on the Sunday morning while the incident is fresh in my mind. It has also helped me to release the tension. I hope that the matter can be concluded in a civil and gentlemanly way.