Llanelli pub pool table flipper says neck damage changed his life
A FISHERMAN who threw a pool table when pub staff refused him alcohol says damaging his neck three weeks later gave him a "life-changing" experience and a lesson about drinking too much.
Phillip Liam Thomas, of Morfa, reacted in anger when he was refused a drink at the Masons Arms on Friday, May 31, deciding to flip the pool table on its side — narrowly missing punters sitting close by.
But for the 19-year-old, who admitted he was drunk while carrying out the act, it was only three weeks later he realised the error of his ways.
While drunk, Thomas, of Heol Tregoning, jumped into the sea in Llanelli where he damaged his third vertebrae — which left him temporarily paralysed and taken to Glangwili Hospital.
Thomas, who appeared before Llanelli Magistrates' Court wearing a neck brace, a blue T-shirt and grey track suit bottoms, pleaded guilty to causing criminal damage to the pool table belonging to West Wales Amusements.
Mitigating, Gareth Jones said: "It was a life-changing experience and it was a foolish thing drinking too much alcohol.
"It has been a long, uphill struggle since hospital but with the help of family and friends he is now back up and running.
"He has worked all of his life as a fisherman and hopes to be back in that trade as soon as possible.
"He is a hard working individual and is genuinely remorseful for his actions.
"He has learnt a lesson that will stay with him for the rest of his life."
The court heard how at 11.30pm on the night in question, Thomas went to the Thomas Street pub where he was refused drink by bar staff after it was deemed he was drunk.
He then reacted angrily by flipping the pool table on its side — narrowly missing customers.
He then went outside and ran off, as those inside the pub reported the incident to the police, the court heard.
An officer in a passing police vehicle which happened to be passing by at the same time was also told what had happened by a member of the public who pointed out Thomas near the New Drovers pub.
The officer then gave chase, caught up with the teenager and arrested him on suspicion of criminal damage, to which he replied repeatedly swearing.
He was then interviewed at Llanelli Police Station, where he stated he had gone out with friends and had too much to drink.
He said he didn't know why he did it, apart from the fact that he was 'angry' and that he was refused a drink.
Damage was caused to the pool table's ball shay, legs, slate and cloth, the court was told.
Mr Jones added it was Thomas's first conviction as an adult.
"He accepts he was intoxicated and regrets what he did — he puts it down to too much alcohol," Mr Jones added.
Magistrates told Thomas that they were satisfied he realised the incident was a serious offence, but stated he could have caused serious injuries to the people nearby where the pool table landed.
He was ordered to pay £535 compensation to West Wales Amusements for the repairs of the pool table, £85 prosecution costs, a £55 fine and £20 victim surcharge.