A St Helens estate agency boss cleared of assaulting a man in a row over a tenancy deal has spoken of his year-long battle to clear his name.
Richard Hall was first arrested 12 months ago last Thursday following a spate which ended in Mr Hall grabbing a baseball bat, an act he now admits was “impulsive and stupid”.
The married dad-of-two was subsequently charged with possession of an offensive weapon and assault. After a lengthy legal process, Mr Hall was cleared of assault but admitted the possession charge and was sentenced to a 11 month suspended jail term at Liverpool Crown Court in June.
Now, speaking publicly for the first time since his court battle, the 41-year-old has told of the impact the legal process has taken on his business and personal life.
“This really has been 12 months of hell,” he told the St Helens Reporter. “I have been so low at times but I have had incredible support and that’s what’s got me through.”
Mr Hall became embroiled in the tenancy dispute after a local landlady, who had no involvement in his Brooklands Estate Agents, was advised by police to contact him. He agreed to help and act, he says, as an “honest broker” between the two parties.
But when he eventually asked the tenant Vincent Shipley to leave the rented property, matters escalated, with Mr Shipley’s brother-in-law Anthony Hoghton confronting Mr Hall at his High Street office.
“In hindsight there are things I should have done differently but you don’t always think straight when you feel threatened,” said Mr Hall, of Oak Tree Road, Eccleston.
“This tenant was furious and there were heated words exchanged. He pushed me and I shoved him back. I shouldn’t have done it but I’m not a trained in things like that; I’m not a police officer.
“When I left the office that day I took my young son’s bat with me because I still felt threatened. As I got to the car, the tenant appears from out of nowhere. From there, the police were called and they turned up and it just went from there.”
Mr Hall says the subsequent court case has left him suffering from depression but has had little impact on his business’s reputation.
“People have really stuck by us,” he said. “There are clients who have been with us for a long, long time and they haven’t gone anyway.
“My wife has been so strong for me; I don’t know what I would have done without her.
“I just want to get my life back together now and forget about everything that happened but it has changed me.
“I’m not as trusting as I used to be but I am now getting my life back together.”