A man who took out a meat cleaver, seeking a confrontation with people who he believed had caused damage to his property and threatened his girlfriend, is starting his first prison sentence.

Stephen Andrew Mummery swung at people with the weapon and banged it against windows of a house on Chapel Street, Evenwood, in a melee which involved several people in the village, near Bishop Auckland, on the night of January 4.

Newcastle Crown Court heard that the defendant had returned to the home he shared with his then girlfriend, in the village, shortly after 9pm.

He was described as being in a state of anguish following the funeral of his father.

The Northern Echo: Stephen Mummery jailed for taking out meat cleaver in affray on street in Evenwood

Mummery was said to have found windows of the house smashed, with some internal damage, and he was told a gun had been put to the head of his partner, who was in distress.

He reacted by picking up a meat cleaver, which he said had been left at the scene by whoever caused the damage, and went out to confront people who he suspected were involved, in a house up the street.

Philip Morley, prosecuting, said Mummery banged on the windows of the house with his fist and he was by then holding part of a chair, which he found outside the home, plus the meat cleaver.

Mr Morley said occupants of the address came out to confront him, armed variously with a sweeping brush and a metal pole, and while Mummery swung the meat cleaver threateningly in response he did not make contact on anyone with it, during the course of the melee.

Eventually a man who was summoned from a nearby address managed to wrestle him to the ground, where he received some summary punishment, with kicks and blows, from which he limped from the scene with a broken leg.

Mr Morley said police were summoned and Mummery was subsequently detained.

In interview he said his partner at the time had fallen out with near neighbours over money she claimed was owed to her, but in reprisal she was threatened and had a gun put to her head and the damage was caused to the house.

When asked to confirm that he was figure seen on CCTV during the incident he made no comment.

The Northern Echo:

But when he appeared before magistrates, the 32-year-old defendant, now of Ashton Street, Easington Colliery, admitted charges of affray and having an offensive weapon in public.

Annelise Haugstad, representing Mummery, said he has very little offending history, of some age, and has never previously served a prison sentence.

She said his reaction that night followed his return from his father’s funeral in a state of anguish to be told of events at the house he then shared with his partner.

He took up the meat cleaver, left at the scene by those who caused the damage, and went up the street intending to confront them.

She said “matters progressed from there” but culminated in the defendant receiving a broken leg later in the incident, in which he was the only one injured.

Miss Haugstad said the defendant has since left the partner he was with at the time and has left Evenwood, finding accommodation recently in the east of the county through a charity.

She said the defendant is in poor health, suffering seizures believed to have been caused by withdrawal from drugs, while, since the incident, he has also suffered a broken arm.

The judge in the case, Judge Christopher Prince, imposed community orders of different lengths on five other people involved in the incident after all admitted a charge of affray at a recent hearing at Durham Crown Court.

He told them he took that course of action because they reacted in response to “trouble coming to them” that night, with Mummery being armed with the meat cleaver.

But, passing sentence, he told Mummery he chose to take the meat cleaver out to confront those other people instead of ringing the police to report the damage to his home and the alleged threats to his partner.

“No crime report was made by you.

“You chose to take matters into your own hands, and it was your conduct which precipitated this second incident.

“It was a serious and concerning incident of its type.

“You were not just carrying that meat cleaver, you were using it to threaten and confront people.”

Judge Prince said he took into account the facts that his emotions were high following his father’s death and the lack of many previous convictions on the defendant’s part.

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He said it was too serious not to be met with an immediate sentence of imprisonment.

The judge imposed an 18-month sentence on Mummery, a reduction from 27-months which he would have passed had the case gone to trial.

He added that he was sure the prison into which the defendant is sent would have the necessary medical facilities to deal with his health issues.