City workers sparked mass brawl at Christmas party after broker discovers fiancee was cheating on him with colleague
Robert Nicolson, 27, is accused of attacking IT worker Anthony Field at last year's Brewin Dolphin Christmas partyHis colleague Graham Sunderland also appeared at Snaresbrook Crown Court
23:47 GMT, 11 December 2012
A mass brawl erupted at the Christmas party of a top City investment firm after a broker discovered his fiance was cheating on him with a colleague, a court was told.
Robert Nicolson, 27, is accused of attacking IT worker Anthony Field after a friend pointed him out.
His actions allegedly ignited a fight that tore through staff from the prestigious financial house Brewin Dolphin.
Accused: Robert Nicolson, left, and Graham Sutherland, right, pictured arriving at Snaresbrook Crown Court have been charged with ABH and affray
When police arrived at the Queen of Hoxton bar in Shoreditch, East London, they discovered the victim with two black eyes and facial injuries.
Snaresbrook Crown Court was told Nicolson acted as the ‘fire-starter’ in the punch-up during which Mr Field was punched, kicked and glassed.
He was joined in the violence by his 27-year-old data analyst co-worker Graham Sutherland who threw a flurry of punches.
A third colleague, Gary Jones, 33, has already admitted smashing the glass bottle over Mr Field’s head during the fight.
Prosecutor Tyrone Silcott said violence flared after the stockbroker discovered Mr Field was having an affair with his future wife Alex Miller.
He said: ‘Nicolson was the fire-starter, the spark that gets it all going. He walks across the dance floor and grabbed Mr Field.
‘When Mr Field fights back, his friends beat him up. Sutherland’s role is a minor role. He is seen to point out the victim to Nicolson and stands back.
‘Then others – but not Sutherland – join Nicolson and start beating the victim.
‘At that point, Sutherland steps forward and seeks to pull Nicolson away, but while he is there, he throws at least one punch, possibly two.’
The mass brawl took place after highly-paid staff at Brewin Dolphin, which controls assets worth 26bn, gathered at the cocktail bar on December 9 last year.
After he was arrested, Nicolson told police that a friend told him his fiance had slept with Mr Field.
He said he confronted the young man and claimed he responded by head-butting and punching him.
He added: ‘The argument was between Anthony Field and I, and no one else. No one else was supposed to get involved.’
Giving evidence in court, Mr Field said the party was in good spirits and he was ‘merry’ after drinking four shots and four vodka and lemonades.
Brawl: Snaresbrook Crown Court was told Nicolson acted as the fire-starter in the punch-up at the Queen of Hoxton, pictured
The pair appeared at Snaresbrook Crown Court, pictured, today
Dressed smartly in a navy blue suit, Mr Field told the jury: ‘I first became aware of a problem when I was struck.
‘I was standing there at the bar talking to a colleague when someone from my work punched me in the face.
‘I tried to defend myself. I was defending myself against a lot of people. I was being punched from every angle. I got hit over the head with a sharp object, I got punched and grabbed.’
Michael Roque, defending, said Nicolson simply grabbed Mr Field and did not punch him. He accused Mr Field of responding by head-butting him.
Mr Field replied: ‘No, that did not happen’.
Mr Roque said: ‘I’m going to suggest that you punched Robert Nicolson three times without receiving a blow in return. Is that right’
Mr Field replied: ‘I would say no. I tried to defend myself and before I knew it I was hit from all angles.’
Mr Field also insisted he did not know that Alex was Nicolson’s fiance before the brawl.
In his police interview, Nicolson said: ‘I arrived at the venue by cab with my fiance Alex.
‘I noticed her crying, Lee was speaking to her.
‘Lee told me he heard a rumour that Alex slept with Anthony Field. I left Alex and Lee to ask Graham Sutherland. Graham said the rumour was true.’
When asked by Mr Roque whether he knew Alex was his fiancee, Mr Field replied: ‘I didn’t know that before this particular evening. I didn’t really know him.’
Nicolson, of Grays, Essex, and Sutherland, of Holloway, North London, deny assault and affray. Jones, of the Isle of Dogs, East London, admitted assault.