Painter and decorator from County Antrim is jailed for nine months after running 'screaming' from his home with a hammer towards his ex-partner

Painter and decorator from County Antrim is jailed for nine months after running 'screaming' from his home with a hammer towards his ex-partner

A 47-year-old painter and decorator from Larne who is accused of 'pressure sales' against customers, including the elderly, has been jailed for nine months for screaming and running at his former partner with a hammer.

Stephen Edward Stewart (47), of Blackthorn Rise, is accused of engaging in 'aggressive commercial practice' and fraud by false representation by 'dishonestly' making offers to carry out work for customers.

He has been on remand in custody in connection with those charges and on Thursday he appeared at Ballymena Magistrates Court (main picture) via video link from prison in relation to another matter - possessing a hammer as an offensive weapon at Blackthorn Rise on April 26 this year.

He pleaded guilty to the charge.

A prosecutor said the defendant's ex-partner was at Stewart's address to "retrieve her property as they had separated".

The prosecutor said the woman said a friend approached the house on her behalf to get the property whilst she sat in a car nearby.

The ex-partner told police that when Stewart saw her friend approach he came running screaming from the property with a hammer towards the car but she was able to drive off and picked up her friend nearby.

Defence solicitor David Nagra said Stewart and the woman had been in a relationship for three and a half years but in the last six months they were "having arguments over money and other issues".

He alleged the woman had gone to the house, not to retrieve belongings, but to "try to reconcile" the relationship.

Mr Nagra said Stewart was a painter and decorator and after coming home from a "long and stressful day" at work, in the "heat of the moment"  he "simply, spontaneously, picked up a hammer from his tool bag" but had "no intention" of using it

The court heard the defendant was in breach of a suspended sentence from Newtownards Magistrates Court in 2018 in relation to fraud by false representation and theft.

The court heard Stewart had 85 previous convictions including what District Judge Nigel Broderick described as the "entire gamut" of offending.

The judge said the offences included assault on police, burglary, assault, criminal damage, obstruction, offensive weapon, riotous disorderly behaviour, serious assault and theft.

Judge Broderick told Stewart: "This case does you no credit whatsoever. I have no doubt that the ex-partner would have been in significant fear. You run at her when she is in the vehicle, with a hammer, and I have no doubt that
would have been a very frightening experience".

He jailed the defendant for three months on the offensive weapon charge and activated a six months suspended sentence to run consecutively, making a sentence of nine months. A two year Restraining Order was also put in place.

The defendant had bail fixed for appeal in the sum of £500 but the judge said he was to remain in custody pending the appeal.