McDonald's drama: Pair locked up for gas attack
Two men involved in setting off a suspected CS gas canister in a McDonald's restaurant have been jailed for 10 months.
Christopher Wardle set off the gas canister at a McDonald's in Stafford in April, believing it was 'fart spray' after it was passed to him by Spencer Benham, a court heard.
The release of the noxious gas caused one customer to vomit and cough up blood, while the restaurant lost around £1,800 as a result of having to close for a number of hours while police and ambulance crews made sure the site was safe to re-enter.
Two victims went to hospital suffering severe abdominal pain and breathing difficulties following the incident at 8.30pm on April 19.
Twelve others, who were all in the Eccleshall Road restaurant at the time, needed medical treatment from paramedics at the scene, Stafford Crown Court heard yesterday.
Mr John Soates, prosecuting, said: "Members of staff and the public became aware that there was something in the air not long after the men had entered the restaurant.
"People began coughing and feeling short of breath, so a senior member of staff took the decision to get everyone outside.
"A large number of people suffered because of what these men did. One member of staff said he had never experienced anything like it before and one woman was so affected by the gas that she began to cough up blood.
"When she was being treated by paramedics, they too began to cough as some of the gas had stuck to the woman's jumper.
"We aren't able to say that it was CS gas for sure because the canister was never found, however, it was clearly a noxious gas."
The 24-hour restaurant was forced to shut for around four-and-a-half hours.
Benham, aged 23, of Wilberforce Road, Leicester and Wardle, 25, of Barrack Road, Newcastle Upon Tyne, pleaded guilty to possessing a prohibited weapon.
Defending Wardle, Mr Stephen Rudge said: "Mr Wardle was handed the canister by Mr Benham not knowing what it was.
"He believed it was fart spray. He accepts that he shouldn't have let the gas out, but he didn't expect it to have the effect that it did.
"I have to concede it was an act of bravado on his part that lead to him releasing the gas. This was a prank that went horribly wrong."
Mr Justin McClintock, who spoke in defence of Benham, said: "Mr Benham accepts handing the canister to Mr Wardle, however, he didn't tell him to release the gas."
Recorder Martin Butterworth sentenced the pair to 10 months in prison each saying: "These are very serious offences and the impact was severe to those in the vicinity".
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