A man suffering mental health issues, who was heavily under the influence of drink and possibly also drugs, produced a machete from his waistband as he sought a fight with strangers outside a pub.

Kieran Jack Barnes was calmed by members of a group of young people leaving Cottles, in Willington, in the early hours of Saturday, November 25, last year.

But, Durham Crown Court heard that when a woman who was with her boyfriend, took out her phone to ring for the police, Barnes once more produced the machete and began to make threats.

He approached the woman saying he would, “chop her up”, so, fearing for her safety, her partner intervened and struck Barnes in the face.

The Northern Echo: Kieran Barnes jailed as a 'dangerous' offender after a machete attack on a teenager outside Cottles

James Yearsley, prosecuting, said in response, Barnes thrust the machete in a downward motion towards the face of the young man, causing two lacerations either side of his right eye.

The victim, who was left covered in blood, sought refuge with his companions in a friend’s house.

An ambulance was summoned and the victim was taken to hospital in Durham where he was treated for his injuries, which were cleaned and steri-stripped.

Mr Yearsley said the image of the assailant was circulated among members of Durham Police and an officer recognised him from her local area.

He was arrested on December 3 at his home address but made no comment to police questioning.

The Northern Echo:

Despite denying having used a machete and claiming he acted in self-defence, when he went before magistrates, in December, the now 29-year-old defendant, of Hurworth Street, Bishop Auckland, admitted charges of wounding with intent, affray and having an article with a blade of point, in public, when he appeared via video link from Durham Prison, at the court, on January 3.

The case was adjourned for the preparation of both a background probation report and a psychiatric assessment of the defendant, both to consider the level of risk he poses to the public, prior to sentence.

Mr Yearsley told yesterday’s (Wednesday, March 27) sentencing hearing the defendant has 24 convictions for 59 offences dating back to his youth.

They include four offences of violence, for two of which he served a nine-week custodial sentence in 2020.

Mr Yearsley read to the court the impact statement of the 19-year-old victim in this case, who was left with two potential permanent scars to his face.

He said he is very self-conscious about those scars and has been reluctant to go out drinking with friends since, as he said the injuries make him, “look like a thug”.

Mr Yearsley said the defendant claimed he was not originally armed when he was in the pub earlier in the evening, but it was later that he was handed the machete, which has never been recovered.

Amrit Jandoo, in mitigation, said the defendant has suffered, “a significant amount of trauma in his life”, which has affected the progress he has been making with his mental health issues, combined with his use of alcohol and drugs.

“He admits he was intoxicated at the time and the two parties didn’t know each other.

“It was borne out of very little that was said between them in passing.

“He lost control of his senses in this encounter.”

Mr Jandoo said prior to the incident the defendant had sought help from his GP and was receiving counselling over his mental health issues.

“It’s clear that before this incident he was getting help.

“This is not a man who routinely carries out acts of violence in this way.

“Much of his recent offending has been shop thefts against a background of drug misuse.”

He said the defendant has written a “heartfelt” letter of apology in which he does not attempt to minimise his actions.

Mr Jandoo conceded that the probation report assesses the defendant as posing, “a high risk to the public”, by way of further serious offending.

But he said the psychiatrist who carried out the medical assessment said if he (the defendant) could address his issues over his mental health, and drink and drug misuse, the risk would be lowered and the “dangerousness” criteria may not be met.

But Recorder Tom Moran said it was, “a big ‘if’,” and he told Mr Jandoo he felt the psychiatric report was over-sympathetic to the defendant, with the author possibly unaware of the full facts over his offending history.

He said the victim’s injuries could have been much worse than they were, and he does consider the defendant to be a “dangerous” offender.

“His issues have not been addressed despite significant medical intervention.”

Record Moran imposed a five-year custodial term as part of an eight-year overall sentence, including an extended period of three years of post-prison supervision.

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The effect of the sentence is that Barnes must serve at least two-thirds of the five-year custodial period before the Parole Board can consider if it’s safe to allow his release, but he may have to serve the five years behind bars.

Upon his release, at whatever stage, Barnes will then be subject to the three-year period of licence supervision.

Recorder Moran also made Barnes subject of a restraining order prohibiting him from attempting to contact or approach his victim for ten years.