Garstang man in police axe attack
A GARSTANG man who threatened to kill police officers with a woodcutter's axe has been told he must attend domestic violence and alcohol abuse rehabilitation sessions.
John Southwell, of Croston Road, pleaded guilty to a charge of affray at Lancaster Magistrates Court last week, following an incident at his home on Saturday, April 19.
Joanna Stephenson, prosecuting, told the court that the 59-year-old's wife, Mary, had called police to the property that evening.
She said: "At about lunchtime, Mr Southwell had been drinking bottles of Stella. He then went to the British Legion for a drink. He drank about six bottles before going out, and had taken Seroxat, an anti-depressant.
"At about 6 o'clock that evening, he returned to the house. His wife says that although she had been drinking that day, she didn't feel drunk, but felt that her husband was.
"She gave him his tea and four times he made a comment to her. He said: 'You're going to wear that plate.'"
In a statement, Mrs Southwell said: "I felt frightened and decided to phone the police. I did this secretly, by dialling the number and then leaving the phone on the table."
The police then rang back and Mrs Southwell answered 'yes' and 'no' questions.
Miss Stephenson continued: "Mr Southwell realised at some point that she had called the police, so he locked the front door. He then went to the back door and told his wife: 'I'm getting the axe. If they come to this house I'll use it.'
"The police arrived and Mrs Southwell managed to unlock the door, but she felt frightened so she stood between her husband and the police. She thought he would use the axe on them, to kill an officer or severely maim them."
In a statement, PC Cartwright, who attended the scene, described
Southwell as a 'large, strapping male' who was slurring his words.
He said: "He picked up the axe and due to his aggressive demeanour I thought I wasn't welcome. I pushed past his wife and managed to push him backwards and a struggle ensued.
"He kept shouting 'I'll kill you!' and I strongly believe he would have used the axe to kill me or severely hurt me."
More officers arrived at the scene and the axe was eventually taken from Southwell, and he was arrested.
PC Ary Lewis, who also attended the incident, added in a statement: "He said 'If I see any of you on the streets I'll kill you.'"
Southwell told police that his father used to beat him when he was young, and that he had recently suffered a blackout which resulted in the loss of his job as a HGV driver.
Duncan Nightingale, defending, told magistrates Southwell was a man of previous good character.
He said: "Mr Southwell says he originally meant he would have thrown his dinner on the floor, not at Mrs Southwell. He accepts that she would have been frightened.
"Things have been difficult for him since he suffered the blackout. Due to his depression and financial difficulties, the defendant's drinking has gone on the increase.
"His wife states he has never assaulted her in their 30 years of marriage. He accepts he behaved in the way he did and understands it was a potentially dangerous incident, but he says the police were not in any danger from that axe. He has since apologised."
Magistrates took into account Southwell's previous good character and early guilty plea before sentencing him to a community-based penalty. He will return to Lancaster Magistrates on May 14 to hear details of the order.
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- Last Updated: 30 April 2008 11:12 AM