Gang jailed for over 28 years for bloody brawl in Doncaster corner shop that left boxer with stab wounds

A gang of men who left a boxer with ‘very serious stab wounds’ after a bloody brawl in a Doncaster corner shop have been jailed for a combined total of over 28 years.

By Sarah Marshall
Thursday, 7th March 2019, 5:47 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th March 2019, 5:53 pm
Top row, left to right: Tunney; Varey
Bottom row, left to right: Pannett; Riley and Cunningham
Top row, left to right: Tunney; Varey Bottom row, left to right: Pannett; Riley and Cunningham

Paul Pannett, 21, Tyler Cunningham, 22, Benjamin Varey, 31, Edward Riley, 37 and Allen Tunney, 35, were all involved in the ‘frightening’ attack on Brett May, which took place in the Best One convenience store in Field Road, Stainforth on the evening of July 11 last year. 

As he sent the five men to prison, Judge Michael Slater told them: “This was a sustained and vicious attack on the complainant involving all five defendants, which resulted in him receiving very serious stab wounds which were inflicted by Varey with what is thought to be a stanley knife.”

Top row, left to right: Tunney; Varey Bottom row, left to right: Pannett; Riley and Cunningham

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He added: “The offence took place when the complainant ran into a nearby shop, pursued by the defendants, and others who are not in court.

“It’s clear from the footage that the complainant was able to hold his own, before becoming overwhelmed by the defendants and his injuries.” 

Sheffield Crown Court heard how Mr May was left with a number of stab wounds to his neck, back and arms, and was rushed to Northern General Hospital in Sheffield via air ambulance, fighting for his life. 

Mr May was subsequently interviewed by the police at the hospital and he told them the incident was ‘all to do with money owed’ to Benny Varey, adding that he had been involved in a verbal altercation with Varey’s wife shortly before the attack. 

Brett May in his hospital bed, following the attack

Mr May, an undefeated prize fighter who won a national heavyweight title last year, said the incident took place after a white BMW S2 pulled up outside the shop and 20 people, armed with machetes and knives, got out. 

Tyrone Smith QC, representing Varey, said his client took the ‘lion’s share of responsibility’ for the violence that ensued at Best One, but disputed Mr May’s account of the circumstances. 

Mr Smith said Mr May threatened Varey’s wife and young children who he encountered at a nearby club where they were watching last summer’s World Cup semi-finals when England were knocked out of the tournament. 

Varey, aged 31, was informed of the altercation and launched the attack on Mr May after he ‘effectively lost control when the red mist descended,’ added Mr Smith. 



Prosecutor, Lorraine Harris, told the court that Mr May was set upon five times during the course of the brawl, with members of the gang leaving, and returning to, the shop on a number of occasions. 

CCTV footage played in court showed how the defendants continued to attack Mr May, even after his blood was splattered over the floor of the shop. 

Ms Harris said that while it was the Crown’s case that Varey brought the stanley knife to the scene, the injuries inflicted upon Mr May were done so as part of a ‘joint enterprise’. 

A number of other males were involved in the incident, who were subsequently released without charge, the court heard. 

Pannett, Tunney Riley and Varey were all charged with wounding with intent in connection with the incident, while Cunningham was charged with affray. 

Pannett was also charged with an additional offence of affray over an incident in Toll Bar, Doncaster in 2016 in which he and three others smashed the windows of a property, out-house and car while the occupants, a woman and her two children, were present. 

He was also jailed for four years, six months in November last year for conspiracy to supply cocaine. 

Cunningham was also charged with the theft of a caravan from outside a Doncaster property in July last year. 

Michael Neofytou, defending Riley, said his client was a ‘hard-working, industrious family man with three young children’.



Mr Neofytou said Riley became involved with the brawl ‘in-drink’ after wrongly believing his some of his family members had been caught up in it. 

Cunningham was described as an ‘immature’ young man by his barrister, Richard Barradale, who said his involvement in the incident was limited to a ‘bit of pushing’. 

Peter Hampton, defending Pannett, said his client also had a ‘limited’ role in the attack on Mr May. 

“He became involved spontaneously while in drink,” said Mr Hampton. 

Mitigating for Tunney, Ayesha Smith said: “He’s deeply ashamed of his actions. He wishes, looking back, that he had acted in a different way, that he had simply walked away.”

Judge Slater told the five defendants he regarded the fact the ‘frightening’ incident was carried out at ‘a local shop in the late hours’ to be an aggravating factor and increased each of their sentences as a result. 

He said Varey must receive the most substantial custodial sentence, due to his use of the knife. 

“The use of knives often leads to fatalities. This is an epidemic of knife crime in South Yorkshire, and across the nation, and families are being destroyed by’s important that the public understand that the carrying, and use, of knives will result in long prison sentences.”


The sentences: 

- Pannett, of Riverside Park, Kirkhouse Green was sentenced to five years, to run concurrently to his other sentence. 

- Cunningham, of St Michael’s Drive, Thorne was sentenced to 32 months. 

- Varey, of East Lane, Stainforth, was sentenced to nine years. 

- Riley, of East Lane, Stainforth was sentenced to six years.

- Tunney, of Stocksbridge Lane, Bentley was sentenced to six years.