Police began an urgent man-hunt for Mick Sweeney, a 6'4 heavily-tattooed biker, who is alleged to have committed a serious assault on two tourists in a remote country pub just outside Southampton. The incident occurred after the friends, driving home to London after a booze cruise to France, had been misinformed by the pub's landlord that bearded 22 stone ex-con Sweeney was "one of those big blokes that looks dead scary, but is a great big fluffy teddy bear really".
"When we went in [Sweeney] looked us up and down and commented that we weren't from round here. But he had such a lovely country accent that it didn't seem threatening really," explained James Bibby, one of the assaulted men, who had started chatting with Sweeney after accidentally knocking over his pint of Snakebite.
"These big guys usually have a fabulous sense of humour so I opened up the conversation by joking that with all the leather gear he was wearing he looked like he could be one of the Village People," Bibby continued. "The next thing I remember I'm waking up in hospital being fed liquids through a straw."
"Overall the trip was a bit of a disaster," confided Bibby's friend Chris Parker from his hospital bed, before going on to explain that as well as a fractured collarbone and three broken ribs, a thorough medical indicated he'd also caught chlamydia from a 'working girl' he had met in Calais. Unexpectedly the full-time prostitute did not have 'a heart of gold' and a surprisingly innocent worldly wisdom, but did have several virulent strains of sexually transmitted disease and, after their brief encounter, also Mr Parker's wallet and car keys.
The recovering friends are confident, however, that Sweeney will be tracked down and brought to justice. This is in spite of initial concerns about the investigating detective, who appeared to be a borderline alcoholic with evident marital problems and a vehement disregard for modern policing practices.
"He may seem a bit of a maverick," said Bibby through his wired jaw, "but I'm very confident that he'll get results."