A man who smashed up a debt collector’s van and threatened staff when they came to his property has been given a community order.
Stuart O’Connor, 42 and of Oswestry, pleaded guilty to two offences of criminal damage under £5,000 and using threatening/abusive words and behaviour when he appeared at Telford Magistrates’ Court yesterday.
He admitted that when Lee Tetlow and Jonathon Wilkinson, debt collectors with XL Civil Enforcement Group, came to his property on April 12 this year, he used a hammer to smash up the van, as well as a pool cue to threaten the pair.
Debt Collectors were visiting for an unpaid debt
Magistrates heard that the Bailiffs had attended the property to recover an unpaid debt over a parking fine which the defendant said he had paid.
However, the court also heard that it had not been paid on time and further fees had been accrued, leading to Tetlow and Wilkinson coming to the rented property.
The prosecution told the court that when Wilkinson knocked on the door, he was sworn at by O’Connor who was holding a pool cue.
As Tetlow came to the door to support his colleague, the court heard that O’Connor then briefly left the property before returning with a hammer and he proceeded to hit the van, belonging to XL Credit, three times.
This caused damage to the window glass and the wing mirror, magistrates were told.
The court heard that the defendant believed he had paid the fine but was worried that the debt collectors would enter his property and remove goods to be sold.
Debtor was ‘deeply remorseful’
His defence told magistrates that he was ‘deeply remorseful’ and admitted the offence, both in court and with police.
They also heard that he was a self-employed joiner who had lost work upon arrest and had not been able to find work since, but also did not qualify for benefits because he had not paid enough National Insurance.
Sentencing O’Connor, magistrates said that they would ‘combine both offences’ to impose a 12-month community order, reduced from 18 months for his early guilty plea.
He was also given 60 hours of unpaid work and will have to undertake 10 rehabilitation activity days, and will pay £500 in compensation to XL Civil and £100 to Wilkinson.
No costs were ordered.