A COCKERMOUTH man who flouted a criminal behaviour order that banned him from the street where his girlfriend lives said he went there because he feared being attacked by a gang of youths.

Jamie Barton, 33, was banned from Butts Fold in Cockermouth to protect a resident who had reported him for assaulting his partner.

But on Wednesday of this week, magistrates at Carlisle’s Rickergate court heard, police went to the woman’s Butts Fold flat in the early hours - and found the defendant was hiding there in a bed.

“He told the officers that he had gone there to a place of safety,” said prosecutor George Shelley. “He was found hiding under covers at the property and said that he was scared.”

In a statement, the defendant’s girlfriend said that she and Barton had earlier been in the town centre and they had encountered several males who were acting suspiciously, possibly brandishing weapons.

She had contacted the police to report her concerns before she and Barton returned to her property. The court heard that Barton has 74 offences on his criminal record.

Those offences included numerous previous breaches of court orders.

John Smith, defending, said the criminal behaviour order that banned Barton from Butts Fold was made after the defendant was convicted of assaulting his partner, the woman whose house he was at.

The defendant, of Kirkfell Avenue, Cockermouth, was not banned from seeing her but he was barred from her street to protect the neighbour who reported that assault. That neighbour had now moved away so the order was no longer needed, said Mr Smith.

The lawyer continued: “There are a group of people in the Cockermouth area who don’t like him. He’s been stabbed and he’s been slashed and that has been reported to the police.

“That was a week or more ago.”

On the night of the offence before the court, Barton feared that the same group of youths involved in the earlier violence were about to attack him again. When Barton and his partner began leaving the area, the group chased them.

“The reason he was in [his partner’s] flat was that he felt threatened,” added Mr Smith, describing how the youths had turned their backs and appeared to be retrieving something from their waist areas, possibly a knife.

“They genuinely believed they were in danger,” added Mr Smith.

A probation officer in court said Barton had shown “questionable” compliance with Probation Service staff and had at times arrived at the office appearing to be heavily under the influence.

Magistrates noted his history of repeated court order breaches. They jailed him for 14 weeks and imposed a £154 victim surcharge and £85 costs.