19th Jan, 2019

Man who threatened to blow up flat escapes jail

A MAN who threatened to blow up his Leamington flat and to stab anyone who tried to get in was disarmed after the police forced a window and sprayed him with incapacitant spray.

But, having spent five months in custody on remand, Eric Leech escaped being jailed after pleading guilty at Warwick Crown Court to a charge of affray.

The 58-year-old, of Christine Ledger Square, was given an 18-month community order with a rehabilitation activity for 40 days.

Prosecutor Ian Windridge said that at 7pm on December 29 last year, Leech’s daughter called the police to alert them to an incident at the flat.

She explained Leech had barricaded himself in his bedroom with a large knife and other items, and was making threats.

When a number of officers arrived, Leech began shouting and threatening them.

An officer went outside, and on looking through the bedroom window he could see a bed had been pushed up against the door, and Leech was pacing up and down brandishing a large kitchen knife.

In the room they also saw he had a paraffin lantern with a naked flame.

He then placed three camping gas canisters next to the lantern, telling the officer he would blow the place up.

Officers forced the window and disabled Leech using an incapacitant spray.

The court heard Leech had a number of offences of dishonesty in the 1970s and 80s, then a gap until a caution for theft in 2002 and another gap until an assault on a police officer in 2009.

After reading reports on him, Judge Peter Cooke observed Leech had had “fragile mental health throughout his life” and had been diagnosed as bipolar, and on occasions self-medicated with cannabis, which made matters worse.

Sean Logan, defending, said pointed out Leech, whose mental health had been deteriorating at the time, had been in custody for five months and not using drugs.

Judge Cooke commented: “He now understands, now he’s sober and free of cannabis, that this really is, for the officers called out to deal with it, a very frightening incident indeed.

“They don’t know how much substance is in the threats, particularly those to cause an explosion. That is not a good day at the office for those young officers, who may have families. But I know he now understands that.”

He told Leech: “I take account that you have spent a substantial period on remand, which has been beneficial to you because it has got you away from cannabis and you are in a more level-headed position than you were in at the time.”

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