Elvis impersonator spared jail

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An Elvis impersonator who attacked the son of the star’s guitarist at a tribute act convention has been spared jail.

Michael Cawthray punched and kicked Jeff Burton, the son of guitarist James Burton, after he found his wife leaving the performer’s hotel after January’s European Elvis Championships in Birmingham.

The attack left Mr Burton, 48, with a fractured nose, bruising and swelling to his face, shoulders and body, Warwick Crown Court, sitting in Leamington Spa, heard.

Elvis impersonator Cawthray, 43, of Ebberston Road East, Rhos-on-Sea, north Wales, previously pleaded guilty to one count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

He was sentenced to a 12-week prison sentence, suspended for a year. He was also ordered to do 80 hours of unpaid work, to pay £750 compensation and £1,370 court costs.

Today prosecutor Mohammed Hafeez told the court Cawthray, who runs the company Elvis Contests Ltd, based in Birmingham, organised the annual competition and had arranged for Mr Burton, who lives in the United States, to perform.

He said Cawthray and his wife Sinead had arranged for Mr Burton to come over, perform and stay in a hotel.

He said after the concert on January 8, Mrs Cawthray went to Mr Burton’s bedroom to thank him for his performance.

Mr Hafeez said Mr Burton then decided to have a shower, at which point Cawthray’s wife left.

He said as she did there was some banging at the door, and Mrs Cawthray said it was one of her crew members and left the room.

The court heard Cawthray had been downstairs looking for his wife and found her leaving the bedroom, with Mr Burton wearing no top.

Cawthray was ushered away by his son but Mr Hafeez said: “Minutes later the defendant returned again started banging on the door.

“The complainant says as he opened the door to look into the corridor he was then pushed, the defendant came into his bedroom and he began to assault Mr Burton.”

The court heard he kicked Mr Burton between the legs, then pushed him backwards on to his bed, punching him with both fists to his face and head.

The victim was left with a fractured nose, bruising and swelling around his face, shoulders and body.

In a statement to police, he said: “I am scared because I am stuck in a country where I have no place to go and I am scared there is some permanent facial damage to me and I won’t look the same as I did.”

The prosecutor said Cawthray, who has no previous convictions, told police after he was arrested than Mr Burton was “trying it on” with his wife.

“I felt very hurt about the situation, any man would,” he told them.

But he admitted to officers that he saw nothing inappropriate happen between Mr Burton and his wife.

Sentencing Cawthray, who wore a black suit and remained expressionless throughout the hearing, Judge John Phillips CBE said he had given Mr Burton a “severe beating” but thought the attack was out of character.

“In my judgment this was an isolated incident in which you lost control of yourself in the most disgraceful way and assaulted the complainant Mr Burton,” he said.

“You assumed that improper behaviour had taken place between the complainant and your wife in the complainant’s bedroom.

“And to use precisely your own words in interview you ‘saw red’ and on the spur of the moment seriously assaulted the complainant.

“It is fortunate that those injuries have not resulted in permanent damage to Mr Burton.”

Regan Peggs, mitigating, said medical records showed Mr Burton was a heavy drinker and Cawthray and his wife both said from the “moment Mr Burton stepped off the plane he was intoxicated”.

He said Mr Burton invited Mrs Cawthray to his room and wanted to be paid for his performance, then Cawthray later found them.

“The scene he stumbled across was his wife in this man’s hotel room, this man not wearing very much and plainly it was an inappropriate situation for them to be found in.

“Mr Cawthray accepts that he should not have acted as he did.”

He said there was “some goading” by Mr Burton, leading to Cawthray punching him three times.

“Mr Cawthray is a family man, he has two children, they are 17 and 12. He has a relatively successful career as an Elvis impersonator and a businessman.

“He is not someone, in short, who would act in this way unless sorely provoked by the circumstances.

“In Mr Cawthray’s mind he had stumbled across an extremely unpleasant and unfortunate situation.

“The way it appeared to him was pretty awful at the time.”

As he left court, Cawthray said: “It’s a relief to get it over and done with.”

PA library file dated 09/04/2003 of a man smoking a cigarette. A leading medical journal, Friday December 5, 2003, called for an outright ban on smoking and cigarettes. The Lancet editorial pointed out that 80% of people in the UK were non-smokers. They had "the right to freedom from exposure to proven carcinogens," said the journal. See PA story SCIENCE Smoking. PA Photo.

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