A SOUTHAMPTON taxi driver who sparked a violent brawl in a city pub has been spared jail.

Gurmit Roath was captured on CCTV shown in court, violently pulling one man who went crashing to the ground before trying to kick him, leading to an eruption of violence at the Dorchester Arms pub.

Southampton Crown Court heard how pool cues and furniture were brandished as weapons until shocked bystanders stepped in to stop the attack.

As previously reported, Roath, of Bassett Avenue, Southampton, had admitted affray at an earlier hearing but his sentence was adjourned pending a medical report.

During the hearing last month, the court heard that the trouble had started after the 50-year-old became involved in a “heated” dispute about who should be buying the drinks.

Yesterday defence barrister David Lyons told the court Roath was eventually provoked into violence following repeated insults, including remarks about his mother.

“It was unforgivable and it started the fight,” he explained.

“He was very quickly taken away to a back room as the free-for-all broke out at a time when wiser and older heads should have prevailed.

“His involvement was brief. Neither side could claim the higher moral ground but whatever the provocation he knows he should not have snapped.”

Mr Lyons said Roath had since undergone surgery for colon cancer and it was unlikely that he would return to his job.

He added: “He now lives on invalidity benefit and the charity of his family.”

Passing a 12-month suspended sentence, Recorder Alistair Malcolm QC, who was shown the CCTV footage, told Roath that whatever the provocation, there was no excuse for throwing someone on the ground and kicking at him.

He said: “As a result of your actions, a free-for-all started and great deal of violence and damage was caused.

“If you had not started it, it would not have happened.”

In addition to the suspended sentence, Roath has to observe a six-month curfew and has been barred from any establishment where alcohol can be used, for a similar period.

His two sons, Jaswant Singh, 30, and Satnam Singh, 27, both of Bassett Avenue, as well as his nephew Shakti Roath,28, of Bitterne Road East, were given nine-month suspended terms at the earlier hearing last month after they had admitted affray.

As a result of their appearance in court, Conservative Caroline Nokes urged city council chiefs to get tough with the drivers after a constituent protested that they had returned to their jobs.