COU­PLE HID IN PHAR­MACY TO ES­CAPE THUG WITH HAM­MER

Man shouted ‘I’m go­ing to smash you in’

The Sentinel - - NEWS - Sen­tinel Re­porter news­desk@reach­plc.com

HAM­MER-WIELD­ING Gareth Lear threat­ened to kill a man dur­ing a ter­ri­fy­ing town cen­tre con­fronta­tion in broad day­light.

The drugged-up 36-year-old left his vic­tim fear­ing for his safety af­ter rais­ing the ball ham­mer above his head and run­ning down Bid­dulph High Street.

The man and his part­ner man­aged to seek refuge in a phar­macy as Lear shouted: ‘I am go­ing to smash you in’.

Stoke-on-trent Crown Court heard the in­ci­dent hap­pened about two hours af­ter Lear picked up a vac­uum cleaner and swung the metal pipe in his girl­friend’s face, leav­ing her with a black eye.

He also grabbed her head and arms and took her to the floor be­fore kick­ing her to the back and stom­ach.

Now Lear has been sen­tenced to 23 months in prison, sus­pended for 18 months.

Pros­e­cu­tor Hunter Gray said Lear be­came vi­o­lent with his part­ner in­side her Bid­dulph home at 2pm on May 5.

Mr Gray said: “He went there to col­lect some be­long­ings. He had been drink­ing and tak­ing sub­stances. She de­scribed him as be­ing wasted.”

Lear left on a bike and two hours later he came across a man walk­ing from Sains­bury’s.

Mr Gray said: “The man knew the de­fen­dant and ac­knowl­edged him. The de­fen­dant jumped off his bike and ran to­wards him. He no­ticed the de­fen­dant had a ham­mer in his right hand and he was shout­ing to­wards him. The de­fen­dant raised the ham­mer above his head.

“The man ran but he was pur­sued by the de­fen­dant. He was pet­ri­fied of him and thought he would be caused se­ri­ous harm. The de­fen­dant looked an­gry and men­ac­ing.

“The de­fen­dant shouted, ‘I am go­ing to kill you’. The man took refuge in a phar­macy. He was joined by his part­ner who closed the door on Lear.

“The de­fen­dant shouted, ‘I am go­ing to smash you in’, which was wit­nessed by oth­ers, be­fore he left on his bike.”

Lear, of Green­head Street, Burslem, pleaded guilty to af­fray, pos­ses­sion of an of­fen­sive weapon and com­mon as­sault.

Stu­art Mul­doon, mit­i­gat­ing, said: “He has not had a drink for four months.

“Af­ter his brother’s sui­cide in Jan­uary he ac­cepts he be­came im­mersed in al­co­hol and di­azepam which led to the com­pletely un­pre­dictable be­hav­iour.

“He is pos­i­tive he can move for­ward. He can re­main sober. He can re­main of­fence-free. If he goes to cus­tody he be­comes vul­ner­a­ble to temp­ta­tion.”

As part of the sus­pended sen­tence, Lear must com­plete a six-month drug re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion re­quire­ment and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion ac­tiv­ity for 20 days.

He was also made the sub­ject of a re­strain­ing or­der which pre­vents him hav­ing any con­tact with his vic­tim for five years.

Judge David Fletcher told Lear: “Your be­hav­iour was bizarre and fright­en­ing.

“You are some­one who, it is quite clear, has made some progress in terms of your drug use.

“Your prob­lem is that when­ever there is stress in your life you revert back to drug use. That is what hap­pened here. It must not hap­pen again.

“If there is any re­lapse, any re­turn to drug use, or re­turn to crim­i­nal be­hav­iour, I will, with­out a sec­ond thought, im­ple­ment this sen­tence in full.”

THREATS: Gareth Lear out­side Stoke-on-trent Crown Court.

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