Leamington man who threatened to blow up his flat given community order

Eric Leech, 58, was given a community order
Eric Leech, 58, was given a community order

A Leamington man who threatened to blow up his 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.

Leech, 58, 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 Friday December 29 last year, Leech’s daughter called the police to alert them to an incident at the flat.

She explained that 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 at them to ‘f*** off,’ threatening: “Go away, or I’ll stab you.”

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.

When he turned and saw the officer at the window, Leech threatened: “I’ll stab anyone who comes in here.”

In the room they also saw he had a paraffin lantern with a naked flame, and he warned: “I’ll make this whole f***ing place go boom.”

He then placed three camping gas canisters next to the lantern, telling the officer: “I’ve got gas, and I’ll blow this f***ing place up. Don’t believe me? I’ve got loads more in that cupboard.”

Mr Windridge said: “Officers forced the window. He was still holding the knife until he was disabled by a Pava incapacitant spray.”

The court heard that 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: “This is a gentleman who has had fragile mental health throughout his life, and has been diagnosed as bipolar, and on occasions he self-medicates with cannabis, which makes matters worse.”

Sean Logan, defending, said: “He withdraws from the minimising you will read about in the pre-sentence report, and accepts it would have caused distress to those in attendance.”

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

And 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’m going to follow the recommendation in the pre-sentence report.

“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.”