Woman 'thought she was going to die' when smoke bomb was let off in The Retreat
A DISGRUNTLED customer caused mayhem in a wine bar when he let off a smoke grenade - causing 100 people to be evacuated and one woman feeling convinced she would die.
The terrified woman was in the toilet when thick phosphorous red smoke filled The Retreat wine bar in Stroud, Glos, and she phoned her mum and dad to say goodbye.
It happened on the night of April 6 this year when 24-year-old Louis Gegg of Windy Ridge, Bisley. nr Stroud, let off the grenade in the downstairs section of the premises.
Four people were affected by the smoke Gloucester Crown Court heard.
Gegg was ordered to pay £3,632 compensation to the pub and £1,000 compensation to the woman by Judge Jamie Tabor QC who told him "This caused absolute mayhem and people must have been utterly terrified.
"The lady who felt trapped in the toilet downstairs thought that her last moments had come and she even phoned her mum and dad to say goodbye.
"It was a very frightening experience for all concerned and to let off such a device - similar to the ones often let off at football matches - in an enclosed space is an absolute no-no."
Earlier Gegg had pleaded guilty to a public nuisance offence and to causing criminal damage.
Prosecuting barrister Julian Kesner said: "The defendant was with a group of men in The Retreat on April 6 but one of them had been excluded at Christmas so they all left, but 20 minutes later the defendant set off the grenade.
"The smoke alarm went off and the building soon filled with thick red smoke.
"Downstairs in the ladies the woman opened the toilet door, saw the smoke and retreated back inside a cubicle.
"She thought the pub was on fire and she feared for her life so made what she thought would be one last call to her parents.
"But door staff came to her rescue and guided her out and one member of the staff picked up the grenade in a tea-towel and took it out of the building."
Defending lawyer Sarah Jenkins said: "This was a very stupid prank, a one-off, and the grenade had been quite legally purchased previously at a paint-balling event.
"He tells me that he did not want anybody to get hurt, it was not meant to be malicious and was meant to be a joke.
"He wants to apologise and to pay for the damage caused. This was completely out of character and was an act of bravado.
"My client is normally a good lad and is in no way a troublemaker. He has a good job and is a keen cricketer."
Judge Tabor said "I do not regard this as a jolly jape but an act of revenge and I regard the matter very seriously."
Besides ordering Gegg to pay the compensation he imposed a four-month curfew and told the defendant: "You will have a pretty quiet Christmas this year."