A fisherman has been jailed for terrorising a young mother as she sat in bed feeding her nine-day-old-child.
Fishing boat-owner Christopher Bycroft, 37, and crewmate Jason Ayrton, 40, stormed in to the home of Gareth McAvoy and his partner Jamie Barber in the mistaken belief they had thrown a bottle at him while he rowdily partied below their shop flat in Garrison Street, Bridlington.
Jailing the pair at Hull Crown Court, Judge Simon Jack told them: “It is hard to imagine what it must be like to have someone smash in your door in the early hours of the morning, then come up the stairs. There is only one way to describe it. They were terrorised.”
Bycroft, of Council Houses, Foston-on-the-Wolds, and Ayrton, of Cleeton Way, Bridlington, both pleaded guilty to charges of affray and criminal damage and appeared at Hull Crown Court for sentence on Friday June 13.
Crown barrister Jane Bryan said Ms Barber was sat in bed feeding her nine-day-old child at 2.30am on March 21 when she heard noises out in the street below the shop. Because it is in the town centre, she was used to noise at night, but banging noises began at her front door.
Mrs Bryan said Mr McAvoy was woken and looked out of the bedroom window to see four-to-six men looking at him. He said a man, later identified as Bycroft was taking a run at his door, followed by a thud. He heard the shout: “Get down here, or were coming in to sort you out.” Mr McAvoy asked what was wrong. He was told: get down here. You just threw a bottle.”
They were seen running at the locked front door and kicking it. Mrs Bryan said: “Mr McAvoy said he had just woken up, and did not know what they were talking about.” They continued to attack the front door. Mr McAvoy got on the phone to the police. While he was on the phone, the door was smashed and the pair ran upstairs. He saw Jason Ayrton open his bedroom door. He was told: “You have had it now!”
Mr McAvoy replied: “I don’t know what you are talking about!” and pointed to his partner sat in bed.
Bycroft realising his mistake said: “Where is the other flat?” only to be told there was no other flat. He turned and as he ran out he was followed by Mr McAvoy who tried to arrest him, but was not quick enough. The pair fled having caused £700-worth of damage to the door. They were later identified by Facebook pictures.
In a victim impact report, Mr McAvoy said: “I no longer feel safe in my own home. I don’t know what to do to make my home more secure since they came in through a locked front door. On the day I had threats made against me and I don’t know what the repercussions will be. Jamie is afraid to return to the flat. It has been more upsetting because the baby was just nine days old.”
The court heard, Bycroft has 91 previous convictions including being jailed in 2009 for six months for causing actual bodily harm .The court heard Ayrton has more than 16 previous convictions, mostly for violence, and was given a six-month suspended prison sentence in 2011 for causing actual bodily harm.
Defending them both, barrister Paul Norton said jailing them would send Bycroft’s fishing business to the wall.
“Both men recognise just how deplorable their behaviour was that night and how difficult it was for this family,” said Mr Norton. “They also recognise that even if someone was throwing a bottle, that is no excuse for kicking someone’s door in. Ten years ago people could have described Christopher Bycroft as a hopeless ne’er-do-well who would never amount to much. However, he was introduced to a man who suggested he did up a dilapidated fishing boat. He put his heart into it, and has now built a business that employs five people including Mr Ayrton. That business will not survive imprisonment. He is the only captain and it takes time and money to qualify.” He urged the judge to allow them their liberty, so they could pay compensation.” He said Ayrton’s wife was a strong-minded woman who was speaking in terms of divorce if he did not change his ways.
Sentencing, Judge Simon Jack said: “The fact you were intoxicated by drink is no excuse. You know you are responsible for whatever you do, no matter what you drink. An aggravating feature is you both have considerable records for violence. You have both received suspended sentences of imprisonment in the last four years. You may have thought it was alright to continuing acting as you have, as the courts would only give you suspended sentences. The public would rightly be outraged if I did not lock you up. People are entitled to feel safe in their own homes at night. ”
He jailed them both for 12 months. Before they were led away to cells he told them: “I have heard that you both will suffer greatly. You have only yourselves to blame for that. It is not the courts fault, that you went out and committed this outrageous offence.”