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Mental health worker who scarred man for life when she hurled vodka into crowd is suspended from job

A social worker has been suspended after she scarred a man for life when she threw two bottles of vodka into a crowd after her boyfriend launched a drunken brawl in Manchester city centre.

Nicole Berry, 25, who had been drinking, was arrested after she launched the litre bottles at the group within 30 seconds of each other when partner Justin Henry started a 2am brawl.

One of the bottles smashed against the head of Paul Dann and he had to be taken to hospital with a serious wound to the back of his head. He has since complained of regular migraines and has grown his hair to cover the scar.

Berry, a Masters graduate from Royton, near Oldham, had been out celebrating her offer of a job as a mental health social worker on a psychiatric unit in Greater Manchester.

She was subsequently sent home on full pay pending a disciplinary investigation into her behaviour.

At Manchester Crown Court, she faced up to five years jail for causing grievous bodily harm but walked free with a 12 month community order after telling a judge she would lose her job if she went to prison.

Nicole Berry, a social worker (pictured outside court with mother Susan),  has been suspended from her job after she scarred a man for life when she threw two bottles of vodka into a crowd

The attack occurred on March 29, 2019 after Berry and Henry went out for a meal in Manchester centre and during the evening he bought her the bottles of vodka as a congratulations gift for her new role.

Trouble began at 2.30am at the city's Deansgate Locks district when Henry got involved in argument with Mr Dann who had been out celebrating a friend's 21st birthday party in Revolution bar.

Prosecutor Miss Rachel Widdicombe said: 'It seems Mr Henry became involved in a confrontation with around a dozen people whilst waiting for a taxi. He was leaning against the bonnet of a police car and called Mr Dann a 'p***k' and they approached each other with clench fists.

'Mr Dann pushed him back and told him he had picked the wrong person and Mr Henry was then punched to the ground and kicked. He was aggressive but was clearly outnumbered and he was set upon by a number of individuals.

'He was punched and pushed to the ground where he was then kicked and stamped on repeatedly. Upon seeing what was happening, this defendant was attempting to secure a taxi and she then headed towards the melee.

'She launched with her hand two bottles of vodka across the heads of those involved. One hit Mr Dann in the head and blood started pouring from his wound.

Berry, 25, was defending her boyfriend Justin Henry (pictured, left, together) who had gotten into a fight at 2am in Manchester after they had spent the night celebrating her new job

'He was taken to hospital after suffering a 3cm laceration on his scalp but discharged himself without treatment.

'The defendant gave no comment responses in interview but now admits her actions were ill-considered, indiscriminate and disproportionate and therefore not considered a lawful defence of another.'

In a statement Mr Dann said: 'Since the assault, I have noticed suffering from migraines more frequently.

'I appreciate people make mistakes but it is important to take responsibility for your actions.'

In mitigation for Berry, defence counsel Ian Metcalfe said: 'She reacted to seeing her boyfriend in a stressful and violent situation. Her reaction is instinctive and reactionary, but foolish, reckless and indiscriminate.' 

Mr Metcalfe added: 'This is a single event which was entirely reckless and discriminate in its manner. Her long standing aspiration to become a social worker will come to nought. I would urge the court to show its human and humane face and to give this lady a last chance. It was clearly out of character.'

Berry was handed a 12-month community order at Manchester Crown Court (pictured)

Sentencing Berry, the judge Mr Recorder Jeremy Lasker said: 'It was ill considered, stupid, reckless and dangerous.

'I am not sure what you intended but it did cause a nasty injury to the crown of Paul Dann's head, which has left him with a permanent scar. It has caused him to change his appearance and it gives him migraines.

'You acted on the spur of the moment and it was out of character. It was a frightening situation which was not of your own making. You have no history of violence and you have got a degree and a masters in social work and work at a hospital in Tameside as a mental health practitioner. You had worked in a care home dementia unit five years ago and you are of positive good character.

'The victim was wholly innocent and suffered a permanent injury to his head.. But I accept you have shown genuine remorse and have shown a significant degree of insight into your reckless actions on the night in question. I am going to impose a sentence which lessens the chance of you losing your employment.

'If I thought your bottle had struck one of the attackers then I would not be awarded any compensation, but Paul Dann was wholly innocent.'

Berry was also ordered to complete 100 hours unpaid work, 15 rehabilitation requirement days and a 60 day alcohol monitoring programme.

She was further ordered to pay £750 compensation to Mr Dann plus £350 costs. Henry pleaded guilty to an offence of being drunk and disorderly at an earlier hearing.