Pensioner given suspended sentence after threatening garage manager over BMW 4x4

A pensioner threatened to kill a car dealer over a dispute about a deposit he had put down on a BMW 4X4.

Thursday, 7th March 2019, 9:11 am
Updated Thursday, 7th March 2019, 9:18 am
The sentencing hearing was held at York Crown Court

John Bryan Richardson, 65, from Bridlington, wanted the Scarborough garage to give him back his £250 deposit when he changed his mind about buying the car, York Crown Court heard.

When it refused to reimburse him, Richardson bombarded the caretaker manager with a series of malicious text messages and phone calls.

In one exchange, Richardson, of South Back Lane, warned: “You only have a set amount of time before you are dead because I’m going to kill you.”

Richardson, who chose to speak for himself in court without legal representation, said he had never been in trouble before a series of personal tragedies plunged him into depression and post-traumatic stress for which he had been receiving treatment.

This had been exacerbated by his divorce from his second wife and a horse-riding accident a few years ago in which he broke his neck.

Richardson, who owns a smallholding with livestock, was arrested and charged with two counts of harassment - one with threats of violence. He denied the offences and the case went to trial at Scarborough Magistrates’ Court in January, where he was found guilty of both charges.

He appeared at the Crown Court for sentence on Tuesday, demanding an adjournment to proceedings so he could get legal advice and appeal his conviction.

Judge Simon Hickey explained that he could not undermine his conviction at the lower court and that he had to be sentenced.

Prosecutor Lewis Kerr said the offences occurred when the owner of the car dealership was away. He had asked his friend to look after the workshop in August last year, which sold a £2,500 BMW to Richardson, who came into the garage and handed over a £250 deposit, with an agreement that the remaining £2,000 would be paid on receipt of the vehicle.

When the garage did not hear from Richardson, it contacted him and asked him to come and collect the vehicle and pay the rest of the money.

The court heard that Richardson became abusive on the phone and said he no longer wanted the car. He called the garage later and demanded the £250 back, plus £250 a day interest payments.

When Richardson made contact again two weeks later, demanding more money, the caretaker manager went to the police, saying he was greatly distressed by the harassment campaign and was worried that Richardson would carry out his threats.

Richardson had a track record for similar behaviour, with a conviction for harassment in 2012. His record included seven convictions for 22 offences, including assault, public disorder, driving matters and breaching a restraining order. In 2013, he was given a suspended prison sentence for fraud.

He said the offences occurred out of “frustration” and told the judge: “The (criminal) conviction is wrong, sir.”

“All I said… to Mr Allen, when he refused to give me my 250 quid, was, ‘You’re a dead man walking’,” added Richardson.

He said he had suffered a “full mental breakdown” in 2012 following the death of his parents and best friend.

But judge Mr Hickey said Richardson’s behaviour was “unacceptable”.

Richardson was given a 16-week prison sentence, but this was suspended for 12 months, so as not to interfere with the good progress Richardson had been making with mental-health professionals.

Even after being spared jail, Richardson asked the judge: “How am I to take my £250 deposit back?”