Former South Tyneside resident avoids jail after producing a sword following neighbour row

The court heard he also grabbed a baseball bat which he swung at one of his victims, but narrowly missed.

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A pensioner who produced a samurai sword from his flat in front of terrified onlookers following a row with his neighbour has narrowly avoided jail.

John McCarthy, now 69, picked up the weapon from his home in view of pedestrians which included a mother with her two children who happened to be passing down the street.

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Newcastle Crown Court heard he also grabbed a baseball bat which he swung at one of his victims, but narrowly missed during the incident in 2020.

McCarthy, formally of Harold Street, Jarrow, South Tyneside, who has a previous conviction for manslaughter, pleaded guilty to affray, threatening with an offensive weapon, and criminal damage.

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Judge Gavin Doig said: “On the 27th of November 2020 you had an altercation with your neighbour.

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“You then went back to your flat and came out a baseball bat which caused those whom she was with to retreat to her car.

“You swung the baseball bat and fortunately missed the person who you were aiming for but it caused him to hurt himself by running into a door.

“If the baseball bat wasn’t enough, you then went back in the flat and went to get a machete. It was (actually) a samurai sword.

“It would have caused fear and distress to people in the street. Police arrived and they arrested you and they recovered the weapons.”

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The court also heard one women who witnessed the incident described McCarthy as acting angrily while he was holding the weapon.

Fiona Lamb, defending, said McCarthy was now living homeless due to issues with accommodation which has led to a deterioration in his health.

Ms Lamb said: “When I first saw the defendant, he was a very different man to how he is now.

“He looks physically different, he had aged and he is now a frail man and his personality and demeanour was very different to how it is now.”

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The judge accepted the mitigation and told McCarthy he was just able to suspend his prison sentence which would allow him the chance to rehabilitate and for the relevant services to find him secure accommodation.

He sentenced him to two years suspended for two years.

The judge added: “My role here is not simply to punish but also to rehabilitate.”

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