COUPLE HID IN PHARMACY TO ESCAPE THUG WITH HAMMER
Man shouted ‘I’m going to smash you in’
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.