Wrexham man jailed for attack on fines enforcement officer

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Court Reporter

A man who saw red when a fines enforcement officer turned up at his home has been jailed after a court heard how he attacked him while wielding a pick axe handle.

Martin Pritchard, from Wrexham, admitted assault and possessing the wooden handle as a weapon and received a five-month prison sentence.

Judge Rhys Rowlands, who had been urged at Mold Crown Court to pass a suspended prison sentence, told him it would be “clearly wrong” not to send him straight to prison.

The victim, the judge said, was an individual carrying out his public duty in trying to enforce a court order, but he was attacked by Pritchard using a weapon.

Pritchard, of Ffordd Maelor, Rhosnesni, admitted assaulting Josef Minoli when he showed up at his home to collect outstanding fines, said barrister Karl Sholz, prosecuting.

He was not present initially but was contacted by phone at 12.20pm on April 20.

Pritchard, 35, was shouting and swearing and told the officer to get out of his house or he would do his van over and burn it out.

The victim requested police attendance as Pritchard arrived and continued to be verbally abusive.

He was holding the wooden handle of the pick axe in both hands and shouting at Mr Minoli.

Pritchard pushed the officer to try to remove him from the doorway before using the handle to hit him to his torso.

Mr Minoli fell to the floor and Pritchard raised the handle above his head as if he was going to strike the officer over the head.

But Mr Minoli, still on the phone to the police and fearing for his safety, jumped to his feet to get out of the way. Pritchard left the scene before the police arrived.

The victim had been wearing body armour but feared he could have been seriously hurt.

Interviewed, Pritchard said he was working when he received a call from his stepson saying there was a man at the door demanding money.

He had acted to protect his stepson, who had clearly been visibly upset by the presence of the enforcement officer.

Barrister Maria Massellis, defending, said Pritchard knew immediate custody was justified but added he could be punished in the community. He had lost his temper as his stepson was alone at the property when the officer called.

Pritchard, she said, was a carer for his mother who was ill, was the main breadwinner and had significant family responsibilities.

Judge Rowlands said Pritchard had been fined last year for a public order offence but it had not been paid. The court had to take enforcement action and an officer was sent to his home.

When Pritchard was contacted he was abusive and threatening and warned that if the officer did not leave then he would burn his van.

Pritchard arrived with a second man, shouted at him to leave, went to his vehicle and got a pick axe handle or something similar.

“You hit him to the left side of the body and then to the right,” the judge said.

He raised it a third time, there was a struggle and the second man who was not before the court joined in, jumping on the victim from behind.

Pritchard, in a remarkably arrogant way, started a countdown.

“When you got to zero goodness knows what would have happened to the debt collector,” the judge said.

Judge Rowlands said the victim had to take two days off work.

Sadly it was not out of character for Pritchard who had been before the court on a number of occasions.

The judge said he took into account the fine having been paid later the same day, that the defendant’s mother was unwell and that Pritchard helped look after her and her partner’s children.

Judge Rowlands said: “I am urged to draw back from an immediate custodial sentence but this was an assault on the victim with a weapon who was carrying out a pubic duty at the time.

“It would be wrong for this court to do anything other than send you to prison today.”

Email:

it@nwn.co.uk

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