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Estate agent attacked client with baseball bat

Richard Hall

Richard Hall

A man has told of his terror after a St Helens estate agent locked him in his office and punched him in the face before chasing him down the street with a baseball bat.

Antony Houghton told how Brooklands estate agency boss Richard Hall “flipped” after he went in to speak to him about problems with his brother-in-law’s rented property.

Liverpool Crown Court Judge Thomas Teague described Hall’s behaviour as “a disgraceful display of public violence”.

Mr Houghton, 29, said: “I’d only gone in to talk to Richard because my brother-in-law had received a threatening phone call from him telling him to move out. He had always been all right with me in the past.

“Before I knew it he had locked me in and was shouting and swearing at me, 
making threats. He then hit me twice. I just wanted to get out, but when I did he chased me down the road with a baseball bat.

“I was shocked by what he did. It’s still affecting me now. I still suffer headaches from time to time and soreness to my left eye.”

Prosecutor David Watson told how police had advised landlady Karen Yates to seek help from Hall after she reported issues with her tenant Vincent Shipley – Mr Houghton’s brother-in-law – on July 10 last year.

Hall then called Mr Shipley, 23, and ordered him to hand the keys over within 24 hours.

When Mr Shipley told his brother-in-law he had been threatened, Mr Houghton decided to speak to Hall in the Brooklands office on Newton-le-Willows High Street.

But the court heard how Hall marched straight past him, locked the office door and started shouting at him before punching him twice in the face.

As Mr Houghton escaped, Hall boasted it was pointless calling 999 because he had “friends at Newton police station” before chasing him down the street brandishing a baseball bat retrieved from his car.

The victim was forced to seek refuge in a nearby off licence.

In interview, Hall initially claimed Mr Houghton had threatened him and that he had only armed himself with the baseball bat “to make a point”.

But Hall, 41, admitted possession of an offensive weapon on the day he was due to stand trial – with the assault charge ordered to lie on file.

Eric Lamb, in mitigation, argued that his client believed at the time he was being “noble” on Ms Yates’ behalf, but now accepted the prosecution’s case.

Describing Hall as “impulsive”, he added that the defendant was of previous good character but had some “unresolved personal issues”.

Judge Thomas Teague told Hall: “You may have thought you were acting as an honest broker but you went far beyond anything that could possibly be justified. This was a disgraceful display of public violence.”

He handed Hall, of Oak Tree Road, Eccleston, an 11-month jail sentence – suspended for two years – and ordered him to undergo 12 months of supervision and complete 200 hours unpaid work.

Judge Teague also warned that any breach would result in Hall serving the entire 11-month sentence behind bars.

 

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