A GRANDFATHER desperate to protect his teenage grandson from mask-wearing ‘bullies' took the law into his own hands, arming himself with a tyre-wrench and confronting the gang.
Retired Frizington man James William Day, 68, faced the youths – one thought to be carrying a knife – in a Workington car park.
But a judge at Carlisle Crown Court spared the pensioner from immediate punishment after hearing that Day immediately admitted his wrongdoing and accepted his actions were 'misguided.'
Day, of Queen’s Crescent, Frizington, admitted possessing an offensive weapon in a public place without good reason.
Brendan Burke, prosecuting, said the confrontation happened in the Cloffocks Car in Workington on December 15 last year after the pensioner agreed to go there to support his 18-year-old grandson, who has autism.
The barrister told the court: “The defendant attended the car park by arrangement with his grandson.”
The teenager told his grandfather that the gang had subjected him to bullying and threats and they had ordered the grandson to meet them at the car park.
“That's why he took his grandfather with him,” said Mr Burke.
“Initially, the youths were in masks. The grandson had warned the defendant that they probably had knives and, on hearing that, Day [the defendant] armed himself.”
Day waved the tyre wrench at the youths, telling them to remove their masks, which they duly did. After this, the teenagers apologised for their behaviour towards his grandson and promised there would be no more trouble.
As he left the group, Day told the youths: “If I have to come back, it won’t be with this [the tyre wrench]; it will be with a knife.”
Anthony Parkinson, for Day, said that when police caught up with the defendant, he immediately admitted his mistake and promptly told the officers where they could find the tyre iron.
He explained that he and his wife had raised their grandsons.
His grandson suffered from "severe autism" and was being bullied by youths who went to the same college. Just before the meeting, his grandson had told him that one of the youths had a knife.
That was why he had taken the tyre wrench, said Mr Parkinson. Day and his family had moved to Cumbria last year from Slough and so were new to the area. When speaking to the police officers, he was clearly remorseful.
“I invite Your Honour to take an exceptional course,” added the barrister.
Recorder Paul Hodgkinson told Day that he had committed a 'silly offence' and one which was also 'dangerous.'
The judge said: “You foolishly took matters into your own hands, and you recognise now that there was a better way to deal with this.”
The judge noted that Day had worked hard throughout his life, and that his actions on that day had been the result of misguided loyalty.
“You thought you were doing the right thing; ultimately, you now realise that you did absolutely the wrong thing.” In the circumstances, added the judge, he could take an exceptional course.
He imposed a 12-month conditional discharge. This means Day will not be punished provided he stays out of trouble, which the judge said he was sure the defendant would achieve.