Estate agent given suspended sentence for baseball bat offence

St Helens Star: Richard Hall was sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court Richard Hall was sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court

AN ESTATE agent, who police suggested could help a woman with tenancy problems, ended up in the dock after his intervention went wrong.

Richard Hall will serve a suspended jail term after his actions during a dispute ended with him carrying a baseball bat.

Liverpool Crown Court heard how Karen Yates had approached Hall over an issue with a property she rented out. He then visited the tenant Vincent Shipley and ordered him to leave.

But Mr Shipley’s brother-in-law Anthony Houghton was so concerned that he went to Hall’s business Brooklands Estate Agents on High Street, Newton-le-Willows.

David Watson, prosecuting, told the court that Hall walked past Houghton, locked the door and began to shout at him.

He demanded the keys to the property be handed over in 24 hours.

Mr Watson added: “Mr Houghton opened the catch and began to leave.

Hall warned him not to report the matter to the police and said he had friends at Newton Police Station.”

The prosecution allege that as Mr Houghton was crossing the road he saw Hall running over with a baseball bat.

Mr Houghton fled to a nearby off-licence where he called the police.

Hall, 41, was arrested and said that the bat had been in the spare wheel compartment in his car.

When interviewed he said that after calling at Mr Shipley’s home he received threatening phone calls. Hall claimed that when he visited the property they both pushed each other and he fell against a cupboard.

Hall agreed that when Mr Houghton left Brooklands he got the baseball bat “to make a point and then realised it was a stupid thing to do”.

But he did not accept chasing him across the road.

Hall, from Oaktree Road in Eccleston, pleaded guilty to possessing an offensive weapon. A charge of assault by beating was dropped.

Sentencing him to 11 months in jail, suspended for two years, Judge Thomas Teague QC said he accepted that Hall had not had the bat in his car for “sinister reasons”.

He said Hall had been acting as an “honest broker” but went too far and nothing could justify his actions.

Judge Teague said that the offence crossed the custody threshold but because of Hall’s age, good character and history of health problems, he would suspend the sentence.

Hall was also ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid work and he was placed under supervision for 12 months.

Eric Lamb defending said Hall had been described as “impulsive” adding he is on medication over issues relating to the death of his parents in 2004.

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