Jail sentence for man who left 75-year-old community official 'petrified' by campaign of intimidation in Randalstown

Jail sentence for man who left 75-year-old community official 'petrified' by campaign of intimidation in Randalstown

A MAN has been jailed after a court heard a 75-year-old official with a community group in Randalstown was left "petrified" by a campaign of intimidation.

Details emerged at Antrim Magistrates Court, sitting in Ballymena (main picture), where Samuel Brown (55), of Main Street in Randalstown, admitted 12 offences.

He pleaded guilty to assaulting the 75-year-old; harassment of the official; making a threat to kill him, 'his family and housing staff'; improperly using electronic communications; carrying out four assaults on police officers; causing criminal damage to kitchen cupboards belonging to Arches House (Housing); causing criminal damage to Arches House; and attempting to cause criminal damage to a door at Arches House.

There were incidents in January this year and the harassment started in March last year.

The defendant appeared at court via a video link from custody where he had been on remand in relation to the charges.

A prosecutor said there had been "ongoing issues" with Brown who was a tenant at a property owned by Arches Housing.

The 75-year-old told police he had attended Brown's address on January 10 this year where the defendant allegedly became "hostile and abusive" and as he went to leave his hat was "hit off his head" and he was in fear of assault.

The official saw cupboards sitting outside which were cracked and damaged and, Court News NI can report, the court was told the tenant did not have permission to remove them.

The prosecutor said on January 17 CCTV at the Arches office showed Brown "throwing eggs" at the windows and on the same date CCTV also showed him "kicking the front door" of the office.

The prosecutor said the community official said issues with the defendant had "spanned from March 2021 until time of report with his behaviour getting more concerning".

The court heard the Arches email address received over 40 emails from Brown with some using "hostile and abusive language" towards the official.

On January 25 this year, Brown told police he had left voicemails on the Arches Housing phone "threatening to kill" the 75-year-old.

The court heard a staff member then told police one of their tenants, the defendant, had left three voicemails in which he said he would "kill the staff at the Arches" and would "kill" the 75-year-old.

Police went to Brown's property at 11.30pm on January 26 to arrest him but he allegedly refused to open the door.

He "quickly became hostile and aggressive"; hitting the inside of his front door with an item causing police to retreat.

Brown then opened his door and lobbed glass bottles down stairs towards police and a shard of glass landed below an officer's eye.

Whilst police were standing outside, the defendant smashed a window causing glass to shatter onto officers.

He spat at a police officer's body armour and officers saw him "use a golf club" to smash a window.

Officers could hear "constant smashing and loud banging" from inside the property.

When police got into the property there was damage to the front door and kitchen.

When arrested, Brown refused to leave his cell for an interview.

A PSNI officer told an earlier hearing the defendant has been served with an Eviction Notice.

She said there were concerns about his "behaviour escalating".

The officer said the official was aged 75 and when she had spoken to him he had said he was "petrified" by events.

Defence solicitor Stewart Ballentine said the defendant had been a "lawful and good tenant" at the property for 13 years and difficulties had only arisen recently "due to the condition of the tenancy" where, it was alleged, "there was damp evident and he was lobbying for 18 months to have repairs carried out".

He said Brown had a "verbal dispute" and after he "flicked his hat off his head," the solicitor claimed his client was "met with a response that they may not come back to do any repairs whatsoever, which obviously angered the defendant".

Mr Ballentine said the defendant had been off alcohol for five years and with drink consumed left a message on the answerphone "out of frustration" but had "never any intention of carrying that out" and wished to apologise.

The lawyer added: "The red mist certainly did come down on that occasion".

District Judge Nigel Broderick told Brown: "This behaviour is appalling. Whatever your sense of grievance with the housing association it is absolutely no justification whatsoever for your actions".

He said the defendant had embarked on a "campaign of harassment and threats against" a community official "who was only doing his job and providing an important public service, providing accommodation to those who need it".

Brown was jailed for five months and a two year Restraining Order was also put in place.