A trio of brutish brothers have appeared before the court charged for a series of attacks in west Wiltshire.

One brother’s victim had to have part of his skull removed in order to relieve pressure on his brain after the man was felled with a single blow. The 27-year-old’s heart stopped as he lay in a coma in hospital.

In a statement, the victim told the court: “He nearly killed me.”

Two bar brawls involving the brothers erupted after arguments over games of pool. During one incident a man’s vertebrae was broken, with a doctor telling him the injury was an inch away from paralysing or killing him.

Appearing before Swindon Crown Court for a series of sentencing hearings that took the best part of a day, Andrew, Michael and Joseph Smith pleaded guilty to a catalogue of violent offences.

Andrew Smith, 25, pleaded guilty to affray, causing actual bodily harm and grievous bodily harm.

Michael Smith, 23, admitted affray and four counts of causing actual bodily harm.

Joseph Smith, 21, pleaded guilty to three counts of causing grievous bodily harm, two assaults by beating and an assault on an emergency worker.

Court papers gave Joseph and Michael Smith's address as HMP Bullingdon. Andrew Smith is formerly of Stratford Close, Toothill.

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Joseph, Michael and Andrew Smith Picture: WILTSHIRE POLICE

‘Nearly killed’ outside Trowbridge Sports Bar

The attack outside the Trowbridge Sports Bar in January was the last in time – but the most serious in terms of the injuries caused.

On January 10, Andrew Smith was drinking at the Castle Street bar. He didn’t have enough money for a taxi fare back to Swindon, where he was living at the time, and was asking others in the bar for a lift.

Another man said he would drive him. The two men went to the car with the driver’s girlfriend. But he pulled up a short distance down the road after it became clear that Smith would not pay the petrol money upfront.

The driver thought Smith had assaulted his girlfriend. He hadn’t, but the man got out the car. Prosecutor Rob Welling said: “The defendant struck him once very, very hard in the jaw or face causing him to lose consciousness almost immediately without making any attempt to break his fall.” Smith walked away.

When police arrived they thought the felled driver had been drinking. It was in fact the early signs of a brain injury that in the days that followed threatened his life.

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The site of the Trowbridge Sports Bar Picture: GOOGLE

Paramedics took him to the Royal United Hospital in Bath. Scans showed he had a significant bleed on his brain and he was rushed straight to the operating theatre at Southmead Hospital, Bristol, for a procedure designed to relieve the pressure on his skull.

On January 12 he was back under the knife as surgeons removed part of his skull in order to ease pressure in his head – sewing the bone fragment into his belly. Two days later his heart stopped for between 10 and 18 seconds.

He later woke from his coma. Surgery to fix his skull is yet to be carried out, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a victim statement, the man said: “He nearly ruined my life. He nearly killed me.” The man was having to be cared for by his mum.

Frankie and Benny’s, Trowbridge

The first attack in time took place last summer.

Joseph Smith and his older brother Michael were at the Frankie and Benny’s restaurant on August 2, 2019.

Another diner took umbrage at the language the young men were using.

Joseph took offence. His brother, Michael, and another man tried to defuse the argument. The man stood between Joseph and his quarry. Smith threw a single punch, knocking him unconscious and sending the man tumbling to the ground. He was described by onlookers as appearing to “look crazy, full of rage”.

The victim suffered a broken jaw and was taken to hospital in Bath. In a victim statement, the man said he was now very anxious about going out.

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Frankie and Benny's, Trowbridge Picture: GOOGLE

The Lounge, Trowbridge

On November 15, Michael Smith and younger brother Joseph had been playing pool with other customers in the bar. It was around 10.30pm.

An argument started over whether there should two shots or one shot on the black. Mr Welling said: “The mood between Joseph and his brother then turned sour. That then resulted in a quite unnecessary attack.” Four men were assaulted by the two brothers, with one knocked down by a haymaker-style blow.

Joseph left the bar, where he was stopped by a police community support officer. He shoved the officer and ran off. When the PCSO caught up, Smith told him he had drunk 20 pints over the day.

One of the men’s jaw was broken and had to be fixed with a metal plate. Another man, whose vertebrae was broken in the attack, said in a victim statement: “The doctor told me I was an inch away from paralysis or death.”

Railway Inn, Westbury

Michael Smith had been playing pool with a man at the back of the Railway Inn on Station Road, Westbury, on November 23 last year. It was around 9.15pm.

“There was a little bit of needling towards the end of that game about [the victim’s] prowess at the pool table,” Mr Welling said.

“That left a little bit of ill feeling.”

His competitor returned to the bar. “As far as he was concerned that was the end of the matter.”

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The Railway Inn, Westbury Picture: GOOGLE

CCTV picked up what happened next. Michael Smith walked past him, exchanged a comment then landed a punch that sent the man tumbling to the ground.

The victim’s wife and two other drinkers in the bar followed Smith outside. All three were punched, with the woman ending up on the floor.

In a victim statement the woman said she was angry Smith had made her feel helpless. She said the real victims of the incident had been her children and spoke of her heartbreak at having to tell her children “mummy and daddy had a bad fall”.

Albany Palace, Trowbridge

On December 1, brothers Andrew and Michael Smith were walking down Park Road past the Albany Palace Wetherspoons pub together with their mum and dad. CCTV showed them stumbling, as if they had been drinking.

They exchanged words with a man stood outside the pub. Andrew Smith struck out with his fists.

The Smiths continued past the pub. But stopped at the end of the road. Michael Smith, dressed in a black shirt, returned and stood in a boxer’s stance, bouncing on his toes. A topless Andrew ran back down the street.

The group brawled outside the bar before the violence spilled inside the pub lobby. The men’s parents could be seen pulling their sons out of the lobby.

Back outside, Andrew Smith aimed a kick at a woman. She was left with a black eye, grazes, a cut to her nose and bruises. In a victim impact statement she said it had affected her self-confidence and she had only been out twice since the incident as she was afraid of being attacked again.

Prosecutor Rob Welling told the court: “This was violence, uncontrolled, it was very messy.”

He added: “There were many opportunities for the Smiths to simply walk away but they didn’t and Andrew and Michael Smith then chose to come back and carry on a sustained attack on a number of people from within the premises.”

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Albany Palace, Trowbridge Picture: GOOGLE

A history of violence

Andrew Smith was out of prison on licence when he was involved in attacks in December and January. He had been jailed for three years and nine months in January 2018 for wounding with intent, which related to what Mr Welling described as an “entirely unnecessary, vicious and sustained attack”.

Michael had two convictions on his record. In 2018 he was sentenced to eight months suspended for 18 months for an ABH.

Joseph had two convictions for seven offences, including a six month prison sentence suspended for a year and a half in 2018 for ABH.


Matthew Harbinson, for Andrew Smith, said drink had been a contributing factor to his offending from a relatively early age. Despite having spent a phenomenal amount of his adult life behind bars all hope had not been lost, the barrister said. “He is genuinely remorseful and extremely shocked and upset by the consequences of that single punch.”

Andrew Frymann, for Michael Smith, said his client was remorseful. “At the same time it seems to be when in drink, when in the wrong company and out late that there was a limited period of time a series of very bad behaviours demonstrated by Michael Smith, which he hopes by his guilty pleas to evince to the court and all of those he injured his complete responsibility for and his profound regret and remorse.”

The same barrister also represented Joseph Smith, telling the court his client was a young man and ashamed of his actions. “This period of imprisonment will allow him the opportunity to ride out or abstain from alcohol and plenty of time to reflect on the link between alcohol and his offending behaviour.”


Joseph Smith was jailed for four years and two months. Judge Peter Crabtree stopped short of ruling him to be dangerous. “There is no doubt you engaged in significant and unprovoked intoxicated violence on two dates last year.”

Michael was handed three years and 10 months.

Judge Crabtree ordered a pre-sentence report for Andrew Smith, with the probation service to look at whether he should be given an extended sentence. He is due back before the court on July 3.