TWO brothers in their 30s behaved “like 14-year-olds” when they beat up a man in an argument over a woman.

James Dunkley met Mark Harrison in the Doverdale pub, Droitwich, on the evening of May 27 last year, Worcester Crown Court was told.

Mr Harrison was with his girlfriend, who had previously been in a relationship with James’ brother, Thomas Dunkley, Peter Grice, prosecuting, said.

There was bad feeling between them and they got into an argument which came to blows. After they left, James called his brother and told him what had happened. The brothers started trying to track down Mr Harrison, calling him and leaving a message saying “you’ve dug your own grave”. When they failed to find him, they went to his parents’ home and behaved in a threatening manner.

Mr Harrison eventually called them back and they agreed to meet in an alleyway in Droitwich.

Thomas told his brother to stay in the car but he went along, concealing a lump of wood or a tree branch inside his trousers to use as a weapon. Thomas and Mr Harrison started fighting and ended up on the floor. James intervened to help his brother and hit Mr Harrison with the wood more than 20 times. Mr Harrison was kicked and punched and had his ear bitten, needing four stitches.

James Dunkley, aged 36, of Westbury Avenue, Droitwich, and Thomas Dunkley, 33, of Trent Close, Droitwich, pleaded guilty to assault causing actual bodily harm.

Sabhia Pathan, defending both, said James had suffered two black eyes as a result of the argument at the pub. His brother was “outraged” when told. James had no previous convictions, a good job, and had been taking steps to deal with his drinking. Unemployed Thomas had problems with his temper and had been on anti-depressants.

Judge Christopher Plunkett said to them, “arguing over a woman, running around town and arranging to meet in a dark alleyway to sort it out” would be bad enough behaviour for 14-year-olds. But for grown men in their 30s it was “disgraceful” and the violence was more serious. They had given Mr Harrison a “right beating” and it was lucky his injuries were not more serious. They escaped immediate custody by a “very narrow margin” because of their previous records, the genuine remorse they had and the support of their family.

He gave them each a 16- month sentence suspended for two years. He also ordered Thomas to attend an anger management course and do 200 hours of unpaid work with 12 months’ supervision by the probation service. James was also ordered to do 250 hours unpaid work with six months’ supervision.

They were ordered to pay £250 each as a token of compensation to Mr Harrison.