RIVAL youngsters who brawled in a fight where an axe and a hammer were brandished have narrowly avoided jail.

Charlie Cotier, 20, Luke Brown, 19, and Ryan Jackson, 20, were involved in a scrap in Kingswell Avenue, Clacton, last year.

The row saw Cotier and Jackson team up against Brown after both sides allegedly made derogatory comments about the other’s family.

Brown swung a mallet at Cotier before Jackson retaliated by striking Brown in the back with the blunt side of the axe.

During the melee, Brown ended up on the floor and was punched and kicked by Cotier.

The fight broke out in the middle of the afternoon.

All three admitted affray, while Brown and Jackson also admitted possession of an offensive weapon.

Judge Jonathan Seely said he was given them all a single chance, and that if Jackson had used the blade of the axe he would have spent “many, many, many years in jail”.

He said: “Society should not have to tolerate people fighting on the streets.

“The streets belong to everybody - people of all sorts like men, women, children - who are entitled to walk around their towns without seeing people fighting with weapons over petty and private squabbles.

“It is frightening for people.

“Imagine your grandparents or your younger siblings seeing it?

“There were a huge number of people around, it was broad daylight and on the evidence it is impossible to say who started it.

“But you all behaved absolutely disgracefully.”

Judge Seely suspended their sentences to enable them to have chances at their chosen careers with Cotier and Brown set on joining the Army.

Cotier, of Berkeley Road, Clacton, was handed a six month sentence, Jackson, of Kingwell Avenue, 12 months and Brown, of Norwich Close, Clacton, nine months. All were suspended for two years.

Each of them must complete 150 hours of unpaid work, rehabilitation activity days with Cotier and Jackson both referred to do an accredited programme.

Each must also pay costs of £190.

Shade Abiodun, mitigating for Cotier, said: “He is very remorseful for his actions.

“He is not a violent person and he simply lost his temper that day.”

Gavin Burrell, for Jackson, said he picked up the axe because he had been using it while doing some gardening work.

“His consequential thinking skills are not what they should be,” he said.

“He has had a lot of time to think about this actions.

“The axe was grabbed in the mistaken belief he was protecting someone else.”

Stephen Levy, described Brown as “timid”.

“He did not realise the consequences of what he was doing at the time and did not see what his actions could cause,” he added.