A Leamington man who believed someone was trying to steal his works van took the law into his own hands and hit the suspected thief over the head with a baseball bat.
And Daniel Rollins then made matters worse by agreeing to pay off his victim if he withdrew his complaint to the police, a judge at Warwick Crown Court has heard.
Rollins, 26, of Culworth Close, Leamington, was jailed for 12 months after pleading guilty to having an offensive weapon, affray, and attempting to pervert the course of justice.
With him in the dock was Christopher Kain, 47, of Tachbrook Road, Leamington, who pleaded guilty to affray, and was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison suspended for 12 months, with a 9pm to 5am curfew for six weeks, and 100 hours of unpaid work.
Prosecutor Paul Mytton said that in October Shaun O’Regan got drunk after going out to celebrate his birthday.
In his statement to the police, he said he was confronted in the street by a man with a baseball bat, and ran off and tried to hide in an unlocked van in Tachbrook Road, but was found and attacked.
But Mr Mytton pointed out: “That is not supported by CCTV. The reality is that the vehicle O’Regan got into was the works van of Daniel Rollins.
“O’Regan had broken into it, and Rollins discovered him in his vehicle. What happened as a consequence is, to an extent, shown on CCTV. Rollins took the law into his own hands.”
Mr Mytton said the recording showed Rollins, armed with a baseball bat, and a female going to the van and opening opposite doors, and Mr O’Regan getting out.
He ended up on the ground where Rollins could be seen kicking out at him and then hitting him over the head with the bat, which broke.
Mr O’Regan managed to get to his feet and ran off towards his home in Windmill Road, and called the police.
The CCTV recording then showed Kain leaving his home, and he and Rollins also went to Windmill Road, where the police arrived and saw Rollins, who was in breach of a curfew.
Kain, meanwhile, had gone into Mr O’Regan’s home where he had smashed his television, which he had recently bought for £80.
Mr Mytton said that when they were arrested, Rollins gave a statement claiming he had acted in self-defence after Mr O’Regan had lunged at him when he found him in his van, while Kain said he was drunk and could not really remember what had happened.
After being remanded in custody for about four weeks, Rollins was granted bail – and was then contacted by Mr O’Regan ‘offering to be paid off,’ said Mr Mytton.
They then exchanged messages in which Rollins tried to persuade him not to attend court to give evidence – and in April Mr O’Regan made a statement to the police saying he did not want to pursue the matter, and showed them some of the messages.
When Rollins then handed himself in, he showed the police further messages which showed the first approach had come from Mr O’Regan, but admitted he had been going to pay him off.
Sentencing the two men, Recorder Charles Foster told Rollins: “Shaun O’Regan tried to steal your van, which you used for work, and it had a number of tools in it.
“I can well understand your sense of outrage when you caught him breaking into it. But you stupidly, irresponsibly took the law into your own hands.
“There is CCTV footage of you with a baseball bat and kicking O’Regan and then hitting “Then comes the affray that you face, Kain. You left your house and joined up with Rollins and went to O’Regan’s house. You entered the house. You said it was revenge, and you got that by smashing up the television.
“Then come the events which led you, Rollins, to face a count of perverting the course “O’Regan contacted you via Facebook, and the gist of that was ‘pay me off.’ You should have known that by participating at all in a conversation about him not coming to court, you were committing a serious offence.
“O’Regan was the instigator of that. Nevertheless, offences which attempt to pervert the course of justice must be met by an immediate custodial sentence.”