TROWBRIDGE’S streets will be much safer for not having these three brothers walking them.

Joseph Smith, 21, Andrew Smith, 25 and Michael Smith, 23, were charged with multiple counts of causing grievous bodily harm, assault causing actual bodily harm and affray, injuring at least nine people and putting several of them in hospital.

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.

Acting Det Sgt Lauren Barnard said: “Between August 2019 and January 2020, the Smith brothers have come to police attention on no less than seven occasions for violent disorders.

“These individuals went on a rampage of violence through Trowbridge, with absolutely no regard for anyone who came into their path.

“They have targeted both men and women, young and old – essentially anyone in arm’s reach, with no provocation whatsoever.

“On several occasions, the victims have suffered serious injuries which have required hours of surgery to put right.

“I know some of the victims are still suffering with the effects of their injuries and one has told me how terrified they feel of going out to socialise with friends and family for fear of this kind of thing happening again.

“This is not acceptable – nobody should be made to feel frightened of going about their daily life within their hometown.

“There is no place for this type of violence anywhere, and I am extremely pleased that we have been able to put these individuals before the courts so they can be sentenced for their actions.

“I know that the people of Trowbridge will be pleased that these individuals have been sentenced – the streets of Trowbridge are far safer without them here.”

One victim had to have part of his skull removed in order to relieve pressure on his brain after he 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.”

Swindon Crown Court was told the last and most serious attack took place outside the Trowbridge Sports Bar on January 10, when 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.

He was offered a lift home to Swindon, but then an argument over petrol money led to Smith hitting the driver, felling him with one blow and causing the brain injury which then led to a coma.

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 up front.

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 and 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.

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.

The first attack took place on August 2 at Frankie & Benny’s in St Stephen’s Place, Trowbridge.

Joseph Smith and his older brother Michael were at the restaurant where 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. A fight broke out and Joseph Smith threw a single punch, knocking him unconscious and breaking his jaw.

Smith 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.

In November Michael and Joseph Smith were playing pool at The Lounge in Roundstone Street when the game descended into an argument at around 10.30pm, leading to an attack that broke another man’s jaw and smashed a second’s vertebrae.

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.”

At the Railway Inn, Station Road, Westbury, in November, Michael Smith got in another fight after playing pool, hitting his opponent, the man’s wife and two other men.

“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.”

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”.

At the Albany Palace, Trowbridge, on December 1, Andrew and Michael Smith, who has been released from prison on licence for another offence involving violence, walked past the Wetherspoon’s pub 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.

A fight broke out which spilled inside the pub. The Smith’s parents could be seen pulling their sons away, and several people were injured.

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.”

In connection with this incident, a female relative, aged 44, was issued with a police caution for her involvement.

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. Michael was handed three years and 10 months.

Judge Peter 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.