Spared jail: The machete man who threatened to chop up builder in a row over roof tiles

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AN alcoholic has been spared jail despite brandishing a machete at a builder during a row over tiles falling into his backyard and threatening to chop him up .

John McCarthy produced the 12in weapon during an angry confrontation with the construction worker as he carried out repairs to the roof of a neighbouring property in Harold Street, Jarrow.

He shouted at the workman: “If I see any tiles in my yard, I will chop you up.”

The 60-year-old had sunk a litre of whisky the evening before the exchange on Tuesday, January 27, and had been fretting over his ill dog, South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court was told.

McCarthy was back in court yesterday for sentencing after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing to a charge of possessing an offensive weapon in a public place.

District judge Helen Cousins gave him a 16-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months, plus a requirement to comply with an alcohol treatment order.

McCarthy was also ordered to pay £85 costs and an £80 victim surcharge.

An order was made for the forfeiture and destruction of the machete.

At the earlier hearing, Paul Doney, prosecuting, said: “The witness, a builder, was carrying out roof repairs at a house in Harold Street at about 8.50am on January 27 when he heard shouting and swearing from the street below.

“He looked over the scaffolding and saw the defendant, who shouted at him ‘If I see any tiles in my yard, I will chop you up’.

“McCarthy was waving a machete around and above his shoulder. He appeared to be drunk.

“He went back into his address and, 10 minutes later, came out to apologise and said he was up all night with his ill dog.

“The police attended, and McCarthy had tears in his eyes.

“He told them his dog was ill and the tiles had been dropping in his rear yard.

“He told them he had gone out with the machete and said he was sorry. He had drank more than a litre of whisky the night previous.”

Geoffrey Forrester, defending, added: “His dog was extremely ill, and later had major surgery.

“His dog needed to go into the yard but couldn’t because there were slabs landing all around.

“He had been drinking. He got annoyed and picked up the machete.

“Ten minutes later, he apologised. The weapon wasn’t used in dangerous circumstances.”

At yesterday’s hearing, Judge Cousins said: “McCarthy has done exactly as requested, and he is suitable for an alcohol treatment requirement, and therefore I am content to deal with this by way of a suspended sentence.

“The only issue is how long that suspended sentence should be. I do regard the incident as serious, despite the mitigation,

“I am not going to give McCarthy a lecture about this.

“I am going to impose a prison sentence of 16 weeks, but I will suspend that sentence for the next 12 months on the basis that, during that time, he is subject to the supervision of the Probation Service and completes the alcohol treatment requirement.”

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