Gang victim's weapon fine
A Wigan man terrorised by youth gangs has been fined for carrying a baseball bat in public minutes after his house was under attack.
Paul King said he had carried the weapon for protection but prosecutors told a sentencing hearing the 42-year-old wanted to “take matters into his own hands”.
King, formerly of Church Drive, Orrell, pleaded guilty to possessing an offensive weapon and was told the court had sympathy for the harassment he had suffered.
However, imposing fines of £349, magistrates told King he had “posed a risk” to the public by carrying the bat.
He had previously been acquitted after trial of using threatening behaviour toward officers in an incident later on the same evening.
Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court heard the defendant had called police on the night of August 20 last year after youths were damaging his car and trying to enter his property.
Attending officers left to follow the gang and King minutes later walked to the nearby Co-op store carrying the bat.
Steve Woodman, prosecuting, said: “While the police were doing their job he has taken it upon himself to take the baseball bat to the Co-op in a vigilante type way.”
The court was shown CCTV images of the defendant in the shop.
Colin Rawson, defending, said police levelled the offensive weapon charge days later having checked nearby surveillance cameras.
He said: “He was the one who contacted police on the night in question, nobody had contacted the police about seeing him with the baseball bat.
“He accepts he was irate and angry, he was at the end of his tether with the constant trouble.”
The court heard King had taken the bat as protection; a deterrent in the event he encountered the youths.
After returning to his property, an altercation occurred between him and police officers that was the subject of the previous court hearing.
The matter is now subject to a police complaints investigation.
During that trial the court was told King had gone to the Co-op accompanied by a neighbour because he thought it was where the attending officers would be and he wanted to tell them where the youth gang had gone.
Mr Rawson added: “I ask the court to bear in mind the 12 months of aggravation he has had. He let his guard down picking up the bat and for that he has now lost his record of good character.
“The police imposed a dispersal order in Orrell as a direct result of what happened that night, what Mr King was saying (about the gangs) was true.”
The bench imposed the fine and ordered for the baseball bat to be destroyed.
The presiding magistrate said: “This is an extremely worrying case. The defendant wrongly decided to take the matter into his own hands and take the baseball bat to look for the youths.
“Even if you did take it for your own protection, it is fact that when someone takes a weapon onto the streets there is a risk you could use it especially given the state of mind you were in.”