Family was embroiled in ‘violent brawl’ onboard P&O Norway cruise after ‘intoxicated’ man’s comments


A holiday cruise descended into chaos when a violent brawl erupted between an ‘intoxicated’ man and a family during a late night buffet, a court has heard.

The fight onboard P&O’s Royal Britannia ship was allegedly sparked when a family asked ‘intoxicated’ guest Paul Evans, 45, to stop swearing as they dined late that evening.

However, tempers flared and statistician Justin Gardner, his nurse wife Sarah and daughter Alice were all assaulted as Mr Evans launched a ‘violent and chaotic’ attack, a jury heard.

The Gardners had attended a family disco with their two daughters when they retired to the buffet, but became upset by language coming from a neighbouring table.

After 21-year-old Alice Gardner asked Evans to stop swearing, the court heard a fight quickly broke out, instigated by Evans’ former girlfriend and boxing YouTuber, Tabatha Young, 43.

Mrs Gardner tried to film Evans on a phone for ‘evidence’ as he held one hand around her daughter’s neck and punched her ‘continuously’ with the other, the jury was told.

But he then turned his ‘rage’ on Mrs Gardner by ‘rugby tackling’ her to the ground, snatching the mobile phone and hurling it into the sea, the court heard.

Paul Evans, 45, (pictured) is accused of one count of robbery and three counts of ABH following a ‘violent brawl’ that broke out aboard a cruise ship

Families ran to hide during the late-night buffet fight that broke out aboard the P&O Royal Britannia ship (pictured in 2015)

Families ran to hide during the late-night buffet fight that broke out aboard the P&O Royal Britannia ship (pictured in 2015)

Evans is accused of one count of robbery and three counts of actual bodily harm following the extraordinary scenes on the 16th floor of the cruise ship during the early hours of July 2019.

Tabatha Young, 43, who admitted to causing actual bodily harm last year, was also involved in the brawl as she started shoving and eventually punching Alice. 

Mrs Gardner said Tabatha Young, (above) 'punched and attacked' her 21-year-old daughter during the late-night buffet

Mrs Gardner said Tabatha Young, (above) ‘punched and attacked’ her 21-year-old daughter during the late-night buffet

The ship had just left Bergen, Norway, a few hours earlier and was five days into a seven night tour of the country’s famous fjords.

Southampton Crown Court heard that the Gardners had headed to the buffet as their 16 year old daughter Amelia, who has autism and is deaf, wanted something to eat before going to bed at 1am. 

Prosecutor Mark Ashley told the court: ‘Mr Evans was intoxicated and when he was near their table, he was using language which a number of people found offensive.’

Mrs Gardner explained: ‘We went up for dinner at 8pm.

‘I drank about three glasses of wine and my husband had had about three pints. Alice drank but I cannot remember how much – she was not drunk.’

She then wept as she recalled sitting in the Horizon buffet and hearing Evans say ‘I want to s*** her’ and ‘I would like to f*** her’ in what she believes were comments directed at 16-year-old Amelia. 

Tabatha Young, 43 of Chigwell, Essex, (above) was also accused of attacking the Gardners during the late-night brawl

Tabatha Young, 43 of Chigwell, Essex, (above) was also accused of attacking the Gardners during the late-night brawl

The scrap came during the final leg of a week long cruise to Norway's fjords that was returning back to the UK

The scrap came during the final leg of a week long cruise to Norway’s fjords that was returning back to the UK

Mrs Gardner, a mother of three whose son had already gone to bed, said: ‘I felt very anxious. We carried on ignoring him and then my eldest daughter said ‘please can you stop talking like that’.

‘Then [Tabatha Young] flew up from another table and started attacking my daughter Alice by pushing her.

Tabatha Young (above) admitted to causing actual bodily harm during the fight last year

Tabatha Young (above) admitted to causing actual bodily harm during the fight last year 

‘I tried to separate Tabatha and Alice. I was trying to calm the situation down but Tabatha punched her and attacked Alice.

‘Then Mr Evans flew up from his seat and punched my husband who had been standing at the table with my other daughter who was very upset.’

The court heard Mr Gardner was struck on the side of the head before falling to the floor.

His nose was bleeding, his glasses were smashed and he was rendered ‘unconscious’, his wife told the court.

Mrs Gardner then described Evans turning on Alice as she saw him move on top of her with one hand around her neck and using the other to ‘punch her repeatedly’.

She added: ‘Then I was trying to pull him off her and he punched me. Then I felt calm and got my husband’s mobile phone from his suit pocket and started to film him so I could get evidence.

‘I was shouting for the kitchen staff but they were just all lined up watching us. It was quite frightening. I did not understand why they were not helping us.’

After spotting he was being filmed, the court heard Evans turned on Mrs Gardner and she was ‘rugby tackled’ to the ground.

She said: ‘He wrestled me for the phone. He was punching and kicking me. I was trying to hold on to the phone because my husband uses it for work. He (Evans) was in such a rage.

‘He pulled the phone off me and was twisting my arm. I knew what he was going to do with the phone and did not chase after because I was worried he would throw me overboard.’

Evans was captured on CCTV throwing the mobile into the sea, Mr Ashley told the court.

Boxing YouTuber Tabatha Young (above) was taken into custody once the ship docked in Southampton, Hants

Boxing YouTuber Tabatha Young (above) was taken into custody once the ship docked in Southampton, Hants

The court heard Evans returned to the dining room and the brawl continued before both he and his partner were eventually restrained by security.

Jurors were told Evans even attacked security and threw plates and glasses to the horror of other guests – Mrs Gardner told the court she had heard one call him a ‘horrible man’.

Both Evans and Young were taken into custody by Hampshire Police once the ship docked at Southampton.

The court were shown pictures of bruising to Mrs Gardner’s legs, foot, arm and hip.

A bite mark was also found on her arm believed to have been inflicted by Young, the court heard.

Young, who interviews boxers on YouTube, pleaded guilty to actual bodily harm last year.

Evans denies one charge of robbery and three charges of causing actual bodily harm. 

The trial continues.

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