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Halloween pink tutu assault: 'Sugar plum fairy' said 'I hate to be a ponce, can I get a fag?' before attack

A "tragic misunderstanding" led to a man dressed as the sugar plum fairy attack a young man and his boyfriend as they walked home from a Halloween party in Surbiton.

Alan Banks, 27, was today sentenced to 18 months in prison. The attack by Banks, who was wearing a pink tutu, black tights and ballet pumps at the time, was initially said to be a homophobic attack, but this was heavily disputed by Banks and led to the homophobic element of the charge being dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service.

A charge of actual bodily harm against Samuel Light, 27, of Westville Road, Thames Ditton, was also dropped because of a lack of evidence. The attack outside KFC in Brighton Road, Surbiton, on November 1, 2014, left retail worker Mr Kingsford with two black eyes, bruises to the face and severe cuts. The 21-year-old from Leatherhead and his boyfriend had been walking in the early hours when the defence said Banks' friend had asked the pair for a cigarette. Donal Lawler said: "Mr Light said something to the effect of 'I hate to be a ponce, can I get a fag?'."

The two young men thought this was homophobic abuse and reacted as such. It seemed Banks was preparing to throw a punch and so one of the victims pushed him with a shield he was carrying as part of an outfit. Banks then punched Mr Kingsford in the face and after he had fallen to the floor kicked him. The court was shown CCTV of the attack in the distance, which was over quickly, but a man in a tutu could be seen running from a man lying on the floor. The attack caused such a commotion people came out of buildings to see what was happening.

In a victim statement read out to the court by Stephen Apted, for the prosecution, Mr Kingsford said: "Whilst the visible injuries only lasted a few months, the emotional and physical injuries have lasted a lot longer and caused me to lose the life I had before the attack." He said he bore no ill will towards Banks but wanted him to understand the damage he had caused.

Mr Kingsford is still afraid of going out, especially at night, and lost his boyfriend, job and the freedoms he had enjoyed prior to that night, the court heard. Banks, of Kinross Avenue, Worcester Park, changed his plea to guilty to one count of actual bodily harm on Tuesday, December 1. One count of exposure against Banks was dropped by the prosecution team. Banks has had eight previous convictions for 12 offences, including drug possession, and has spent time in prison. Mr Lawler told the court Banks had since been trying to turn his life around and provided for both his partner's two-year-old and his 8-year-old child from a previous relationship.

He said Banks was "mortified" at what he had done, especially when it was reported as being a homophobic attack. Mr Lawler said the Halloween night had been light-hearted for Banks and his friends before the attack and they were not "looking for trouble".

Judge Nicholas Jones passed sentence at Kingston Crown Court this morning. He said he had considered giving a suspended sentence but decided imprisonment was correct. As Banks was told what his sentence would be his partner was in tears. Mr Kingsford also left the court in tears after Banks was taken into custody. Banks must also pay £100 victim surcharge. Following the attack Brian Kingsford, Robbie's father, a caretaker at Kingston Council, set up Facebook group Red Alert to trace wanted criminals.

Since launching the page about 16,000 members have joined the group and it has expanded to include wider parts of the UK.

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