SECURITY guards were headbutted and racially abused at a busy shopping centre in front of horrified Christmas shoppers after violence erupted.

James Rugless, his friend Tonya Price and Jamie Challis caused uproar in Newport’s Friars Walk on December 23 last year, the city’s magistrates court heard

Rugless and Price were due to go on trial but changed their pleas to guilty, while Challis was jailed for four months in August for his part in the brawl.

The 20-year-old Challis, of Medway Road, Bettws, Newport, admitted affray and possessing an offensive weapon.

Rugless, 25, of Albert Street, Newport, pleaded guilty to affray.

Price, 18, of the Maindee area, Newport, admitted a public order offence and criminal damage.

Prosecutor Mark Battrick told District Judge Shomon Khan how trouble flared after Rugless and Price fought against Challis just before 6pm.

He said: “There was shouting and screaming and there was a large number of people present at a very busy time just before Christmas.”

Mr Battrick told the court how security guards were called and Price confronted one of them, Christopher Patton, before grabbing his personal radio and smashing it on the floor.

He said Rugless abused guard Mardana Singh with a racial slur while Challis picked up a wooden crate from a fruit and vegetable stall and threw it.

Another security guard then suffered a bloody nose after he was headbutted in the melee.

An off-duty policeman came to the aid of the guards before his colleagues were called.

Mr Battrick said that Challis was also serving a five-year prison sentence, imposed at Cardiff Crown Court last month, for a separate offence.

That related to him stabbing a former friend in April in Newport city centre over a loan of just £10.

He admitted wounding with intent, intimidating a witness and taking a car without the owner's consent.

The court heard Rugless had 10 previous convictions for 23 offences, including one for assault and a public order offence in 2014 for which he received a suspended prison sentence.

Darren Bishop, mitigating for fast food worker Price, said she had no previous convictions and was 17 at the time of the offence.

District Judge Khan told her: “This was a deeply unpleasant public order offence and you didn’t cover yourself in glory.”

She was given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £85 costs and a £20 surcharge.

The court heard that electronics store worker Rugless, represented by Gareth Driscoll, was “remorseful, not a racist and was under the influence of alcohol” at the time of the offence.

The judge sentenced him to a 12-month community order, 160 hours of unpaid work and to pay £400 compensation and £200 prosecution costs.