A MAN who repeatedly threatened to knife police officers in their necks during a five-hour stand-off owes them ‘a debt of gratitude’ for the level-handed way they dealt with him.
Following the incident in Newdigate Road, Upper Stoke, Coventry, Alexander Watt pleaded guilty to charges of affray and criminal damage in the house.
Watt (35) of Moorfield, Stoke Aldermoor, Coventry, was given a 12-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months by a judge at Warwick Crown Court.
He was also ordered to take part in a rehabilitation activity and to do 100 hours of unpaid work and pay £320 costs.
Prosecutor Rebecca Wade said: “The case involves events on Tuesday the 17th of July, at shortly after half past four in the afternoon, when officers were called to an address in Newdigate Road because of a report of someone smashing it up.”
The call had been made by Watt’s ex-partner Donna Malone who said he was inside smashing items in the house, and that their 15-year-old son was also in there.
In fact it later emerged Watt had smashed the television and an X-box console with a combined value of £800.
“But matters escalated because as officers approached the property they could see the defendant pulling the blinds down, and he began tapping on the window with a kitchen knife with an eight-inch blade.
“He was aggressive towards them, saying that if they tried to get in, he would stick the knife through their necks.”
One of the officers outside told him that was ‘a silly thing to say,’ and tried to persuade him to put the knife down or they would have to call in Taser officers.
“He said he didn’t care, and would stick the knife into their necks if they tried to enter.”
Watt then moved away from the window, and the officers saw the boy run out of the back door and jump over a wall.
“Thereafter the same situation continued. He was in the house with a knife, and in time other officers appeared, including negotiators – but he would threaten to either cut himself with the knife or stick in in the officers’ necks.
“That went on for five hours before he was ultimately persuaded to come out and was arrested,” said Miss Wade.
She added that when he was interviewed Watt, who had no previous convictions, said the reason for his actions was the break-up of his relationship with Miss Malone, who the court heard had refused to make a statement to the police.
Justin Jarmola, defending, said: “Through me, Mr Watt wants to apologise to Miss Malone, and wants it made clear through me that he apologises to those police officers for his utterly unacceptable behaviour that day.”
He conceded that, given the threats made by Watt, ‘the custody threshold must be crossed,’ but argued that it could be suspended.
Judge Peter Cooke agreed, commenting: “Verbal threats were articulated, but he didn’t come close to putting a knife to any of the officers. He was inside the building, and they were outside.”
Mr Jarmola said that references and the pre-sentence report show it was out of character at a time when Watt had mental health issues, and he had since been ‘signed off’ suffering from stress, anxiety and depression.
Referring to the pre-sentence report, he added: “I will not go into the detail of what led to the events of that day, but it was an unusual situation.
“The references paint a picture of a man who would not even contemplate this if he was thinking clearly.”
Sentencing Watt, Judge Cooke told him: “When you engage in bizarre behaviour, as you did that night, and when now, with a clear mind, you can look back on it, I hope you appreciate the level-headed and calm way the police officers dealt with you.
“You owe them the apology you have proffered, and you owe them a debt of gratitude for the way they dealt with it.
“I am going to treat this as a blip which will not be repeated. It must be marked by a prison sentence, even if it is suspended, or it would trivialise the fact that those officers had to go through something like this on their shift.”