Judge said he would be failing in his duty if he did not jail 'Batman' and 'Superman' after savage attack at Ryton fancy dress party

Jay Drage, who was dressed as Batman during the attack.
Jay Drage, who was dressed as Batman during the attack.

A man was stamped on and kicked while he lay unconscious on the floor when people dressed as Superman and Batman turned villains in a vicious attack, despite Supergirl’s attempts to intervene.

Dale McCarthy and Jay Drage were jailed by a judge at Warwick Crown Court after pleading guilty to a charge of affray following the incident at the Sports Connection in Ryton – just three days before Drage was due to be sentenced for an earlier assault

Judge Anthony Potter said he could not suspend the sentences on either of them, despite McCarthy having no previous convictions.

‘Batman’ Drage (20) of Warwick Road, Wolston, was jailed for 12 months, and ‘Superman’ McCarthy (19) of Montague Road, Rugby, for nine months.

Prosecutor Ian Windridge said that on December 7 last year two parties were being held in separate function rooms at the Sports Connection leisure centre in Ryton.

One was a Christmas party for staff from the Barclays Bank complaints department, while the other was a 40th birthday fancy dress party – at which Drage and McCarthy were guests.

Earlier in the day they and another friend, Haydon Illingworth-Joyce, had obtained their respective costumes from a fancy dress shop in Rugby – with McCarthy attending as Superman

and Drage and Mr Illingworth-Joyce as Batman and Robin.

Mr Windridge pointed out that Mr Illingworth-Joyce (22) of Townsend Road, Rugby, had also been charged with affray – but was found not guilty after a CCTV recording played frame-by-frame during his trial revealed he had only been a spectator.

Towards the end of the night members of both parties had taken the opportunity to go outside for a last cigarette, and there was some sort of confrontation before people headed back into the foyer area.

Playing the CCTV recording from the foyer, and describing those in fancy dress by their costumes, Mr Windridge said Barclays employee Connor Paton was followed in by Superman who pursued him to the stairs leading to the function rooms.

As Supergirl tried to push Batman away back out of the doors, a blow off-camera from Superman felled Mr Paton.

And as one of his colleagues, Michael Sheehy, tried to help Mr Paton, who was bleeding from an injury to his face, he was also punched by Superman before a member of staff intervened and tried to get him to leave.

But, on seeing other people in the foyer, instead of leaving, Superman went flying in, and during the skirmish that followed, Barclays employee Paul Howkins was knocked to the floor.

With Mr Howkins unconscious and motionless on the floor, the CCTV showed McCarthy, identified by his distinctive red cape, raising his leg and stamping down or jumping on the prone man.

And, as Robin watched on, Batman then also waded in, despite Supergirl’s attempts to pull him away, and landed ‘a substantial kick’.

It was delivered with such force that Mr Howkins’ head was lifted off the floor and Batman lost his balance and fell.

He was helped to his feet, and he, his caped sidekick and Superman all left as Supergirl and others tried to help their victim who was taken to hospital.

Mr Howkins had cuts to his face and was found to have suffered a small bleed to his brain, which did not require any surgical intervention, said Mr Windridge.

He added that McCarthy had no previous convictions, but at the time Drage was on bail for an assault he had committed the previous New Year’s Eve, for which he appeared at the court just three days after the fancy dress incident.

He was given an 18-month community order, with a curfew intended to stop him ‘going on the lash’ over that festive period – but it had come three days too late for Mr Howkins.

Simon Burch, for McCarthy, said: “There was a degree of bravado in the way Mr McCarthy and his associate acted.

“The main aggravating factor is his action in what can only be regarded as a moment of complete madness of that perceived stamp or jump. Mercifully he was wearing soft trainers.”

Mr Burch added that the other side of McCarthy was that he was ‘a competent rugby player,’ and he also coaches children on Sundays.

Sarah Holland, for Drage, said he had not been in trouble since being given the community order three days after the affray.

Jailing the two men, Judge Potter told them: “This was what in any other circumstances might be a comic event, because you were attending a birthday party dressed as superheroes.

“You may have been dressed as superheroes, but the way you conducted yourselves was far from being fitting so far as the reputations of Superman and Batman are concerned.

“You both went towards Mr Howkins, and he went to the floor very quickly. It is impossible to say who did what at that stage, but as Mr Howkins was pushed to the floor, you McCarthy kicked him.

“It is plain he was unconscious. He was not in a position to defend himself or to curl up or get up, which makes the acts of both of you worse.

“You Mr McCarthy jumped up and onto his chest area. You Mr Drage went to his head and can clearly be seen kicking. It is quite sickening. These kinds of acts frequently lead to serious injuries and sometimes fatalities.

“I’ve considered whether I can suspend the sentence, but I could not send out the message that someone who kicks someone who is unconscious on the ground is deserving of a suspended sentence.

"I would be failing in my public duty if I were to suspend it.”