A BAR brawl trial collapsed after a key witness said she couldn’t watch CCTV showing her swinging the blow that began the fight. 

Victoria Shepherd said that if she was made to watch the video of the fight outside J’s Sports Bar in December 2020 she ‘may break down completely and have some sort of fit’, Judge Michael Gledhill QC told a jury yesterday. 

That admission resulted in prosecutors offering no evidence in the trial of four men accused of affray. 

The men - Thomas Foster-Barnes, Louis Faller, Jamie Lewis and Craig Simmonds – were said to have got into a fight with a Mrs Shepherd, her husband and brother-in-law at around 10.20pm on December 2, 2020, after suggesting they were ‘travellers’.  

Opening the case on Monday, prosecutor John Upton said: “It is clear that initially both sides were trying to deal with the situation quite peacefully. But you will hear from Jesse Shepherd [whose nose was broken in the fight] that at least one member of the defendants’ group had other ideas, saying: ‘You ain’t going anywhere, you pikey scum.” 

However, CCTV showed to the jury showed Mrs Shepherd clearly throwing a punch at Simmonds that began the brawl. She was later struck over the head by Foster-Barnes and had to be dragged along the floor to the safety of the bar. 

Judge Gledhill told the jury yesterday he’d known ‘perfectly well what the case was about’ when the jury was sworn in but due to the ‘quality of the equipment that is given to judges or, certainly, to this judge’ had not been able to watch the CCTV.  

He said of the video footage: “I took the view on that evidence alone that she was the person that began the fight. That was a very provisional view because I hadn’t seen, as you hadn’t seen, all the CCTV material and we hadn’t heard what her husband and brother in law had to say about it.  

“So concerned was I at that position that when you left yesterday afternoon I pointed out to the prosecutor that on the evidence I’d just seen and you had just seen she was guilty of an assault or an attempted assault and I didn’t understand why she’d not been charge with such [an offence] and why she wasn’t in the dock with the other defendants.” 

Despite questions being raised by the judge, a senior crown prosecutor decided overnight that it was still in the public interest to have a trial and call Mrs Shepherd as a witness.  

She had ‘broken down’ during cross-examination by two of the defendants’ barristers. Judge Gledhill told the jury that, over lunch, she said she would not be able to watch the CCTV footage of the fight over concerns it could trigger a seizure and for that reason the Crown Prosecution Service had offered no evidence.  

Thomas Foster-Barnes, 30, of no fixed address, Jamie Lewis, 25, of Jersey Road, Oxford, Louis Fuller, 31, of Marlborough Road, Oxford, and Craig Simmonds, 23, of Collins Street, Oxford, were formally found not guilty of affray. 

Foster-Barnes had earlier admitted causing grievous bodily harm in relation to the assault on Mrs Shepherd.