A MAN has been jailed for six-and-a-half years after planning to threaten a Hartlepool man with a gun.
Steven Knight drove from Middlesbrough to Hartlepool to scare town firm boss Malcolm Mayes with a gun at his home in Bishop Cuthbert.
But when 33-year-old Knight realised police were onto him, he abandoned the plan.
The defendant was arrested at his home in Bevanlee Road, South Bank, Middlesbrough, after fleeing Hartlepool and throwing away the handgun.
Prosecutor David Brooke told Teesside Crown Court that the defendant had fled to Spain ahead of the trial but had always intended to plead guilty.
He said: “He had sent a message on Facebook which read ‘new life started today in the sun’.”
The court heard that after speaking with his solicitor, Knight flew home and was arrested at Newcastle airport.
In mitigation, barrister David Constantine said: “He became aware that the police were there, he panicked, he seems to have disposed of the weapon by throwing it in the grass – there was no attempt to confront anybody, produce the weapon or use it.”
Recorder of Middlesbrough Simon Bourne-Arton QC sentenced Knight to six-years four months for possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence, and a consecutive three month sentence for absconding.
Sentencing him, the Judge Bourne-Arton said: “You were given a gun, it was loaded, you were there to frighten Malcolm Mayes.
“It was only when you realised that you were being followed by the police that you abandoned the scheme and threw the gun away.
“It was a determined attempt to frighten that man.”
Two other Hartlepool men – Stephen Stead and Nigel Harker – were caged for more than 10 years for firearms offences linked to the foiled attempt at threatening Mayes at his home.
Police had been watching Mayes’ home in July 2012 when Knight arrived on a motorbike, the court previously heard.
The motorcyclist fled the scene after spotting the officers, and the weapon was eventually dumped in Middlesbrough without being used before Stead, 40, of Hart Lane, Hartlepool, and Harker, 36, of the town’s Middleton Road, were snared as they tried to find it in wasteland.
Teesside Crown Court heard Mayes had been targeted in July 2012 just days after being beaten up after being lured to a bogus business meeting.
Just five months after the failed intimidation attempt, Mayes – an aerial fitter by trade – carried out a sickening New Year’s Day attack in which he locked his victim in his home before raping her and leaving her covered in bitemarks and bruises.
He was jailed for seven years.