Roofer who bludgeoned Portsmouth mechanic over the head with claw hammer told: ‘You can have your tool back’

A file photo of a claw hammer
A file photo of a claw hammer

A FURIOUS roofer who knocked a mechanic over the head with a claw hammer has been told he can keep the weapon to use at work.

Amphetamine-fuelled Andrew Darke, 46, charged into Milton Park Garage, in Milton Road, angry with the firm – despite them not having done any recent work to his Citroen Berlingo van.

Portsmouth Crown Court heard Darke bludgeoned a mechanic over the head with the hammer handle dislodging his tooth.

But Judge David Melville QC, who imposed a suspended sentence, agreed Darke could keep the weapon after his barrister James Caldwell said it would would be ‘hopefully put to better work rather than threatening’ people.

Darke, of Temple Street, Landport, was given a six-month term suspended for two years with 175 hours’ unpaid work and 20 rehabilitation activity days.

Opening the case, prosecutor Anthony Bailey said: ‘[The mechanic] could see the defendant was holding a claw hammer in his right hand, he was holding the metal hammer end with the handle protruding.

‘He spoke to [the mechanic] and said: “I’m going to smash your face in” and in order to emphasise that he struck him in the face with the hammer and caught him on the left side of the upper lip and bottom of his nose.

‘[The mechanic] was totally shocked and couldn’t believe he’d done this. The blow was fairly hard and caused him to stumble backwards and knocked him off balance.’

A struggle broke out as the mechanic battled to wrestle the hammer from Darke, who was shouting and threatening him before the worker managed to push him out the door and lock it.

Mr Bailey added: ‘The defendant’s parting words were: “I’m going to smash your face in with a hammer and kill you next time I see you”.’

Darke drove off after the incident at 9.30am on August 21 last year – but returned at 10.30am where the garage owners challenged him about damaging a fence days before.

Menacing Darke said: ‘I suppose you think you’re hard – I’ll smash your head in with a hammer.’

Police later arrested Darke when they stopped him in Goldsmith Avenue. Officers found his claw hammer and a small tin of herbal cannabis in a holdall.

He admitted possession of the class B drug, affray and criminal damage to the fence.

Mr Caldwell, mitigating, said Darke had ‘quite clear remorse’ but had a ‘dissatisfaction with way his van’ had been repaired. Outside court the garage said it had not done any recent work on the Citroen.

Mr Caldwell said Darke’s aggressive behaviour came about from his ‘occasional use of amphetamine’. The defendant cares for his elderly mother and works three days a week.

Addressing Darke, judge Melville said: ‘Why should you not appreciate that you simply can’t behave like that? If someone else behaved like this at your garage you would’ve been shouting for them to go to prison.’

Ordering the cannabis must be forfeited and destroyed, the judge added: ‘But you can have the claw hammer back.’