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Saturday, 30 August 2014

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Suspended sentence for Cumbrian man who lost temper with probation officer

A man who shouted and swore at a woman probation officer while they were discussing his failure to become less aggressive has been given a suspended prison sentence.

David Huddart, who is so tall his very appearance was described by a judge as “intimidating”, had been ordered to attend the domestic violence programme as part of a punishment imposed on him for beating his then girlfriend, Holly McKenzie.

But when his probation officer Carrie Heath tackled him about his lack of progress on the course Huddart became so angry she nearly called the police.

At Carlisle Crown Court Huddart, of Craig Hill, Bowness-on-Solway, admitted breaching the terms of the court order with his “unacceptable behaviour”.

Prosecuting counsel Greg Hoare said Huddart, who has previous convictions for offences including causing actual bodily harm, battery, threatening behaviour, making a threat to kill and possessing a table leg as an offensive weapon, had been sentenced in April last year to a community punishment which included attending the Probation Service’s domestic violence programme.

The sentence had been imposed for assault and criminal damage after Huddart pushed his way into Ms McKenzie’s house in Oswald Street, Carlisle, before knocking her to the floor, throwing her laptop across the room and deliberately damaging her car.

But since then probation officers had not been happy with the way he behaved towards them or with his response to the programme or

Probation officers had hoped to address his behaviour because “it is dangerous behaviour and people have been hurt by it”, but they now wanted the original sentence revoked because he had made so little progress.

“He has a tendency towards anger and aggression,” Mr Hoare said.

As a result Ms Heath was “treading carefully” when she met him to talk about the poor progress he had made on the course, he said.

But he became “very, very angry”, shouting and swearing and pointing at her across her desk, he said.

“Although he had completed the domestic violence programme it would appear it had not sunk in,” Mr Hoare said.

In mitigation defence counsel Brendan Burke said Huddart reacted as he did towards Ms Heath because he tended to be “vigorous in pursuit of an argument”. He said he did not appreciate how much his huge physique could make him more intimidating than he meant to be.

Mr Burke said Huddart was in a new “stable and supportive relationship” with his new partner, who was watching proceedings from the public gallery.

“They have arguments like every couple have arguments, but she says she has never felt under threat,” he said.

Judge Peter Hughes QC said that because he was “very tall and very large” Huddart could intimidate people just by his appearance. “It doesn’t take much more to make him really intimidating,” he said.

The judge revoked the original sentence and instead imposed a four-month prison sentence, suspended for a year, with a further 12 months of probation supervision. He also ordered him to pay the £150 costs of the hearing.

“If you blow your top in the way you have in the past I would expect the Probation Service to call the police and you will be prosecuted,” he told him.

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