Blackpool man jailed for 11 months after challenging witness to punch-up at Preston Crown Court trial

He had both fists clenched and was "in a fighting stance" as he screamed at the frightened witness, "Come outside for a fight!"
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A thug who challenged a man to a punch-up during a court trial has been jailed for almost a year.

Paul Lyndsay was said to have "asked John Norman out" while he stood in the atrium of the city's Law Courts preparing to give evidence against him.

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Recorder Katie Jones heard Lyndsay was in court that day charged with affray involving Mr Norman after bursting into his home in Blackpool in a row over an alleged debt.

But he made matters worse by threatening him in the precincts of the court, leading to a more serious offence of intimidating a witness.

The judge sent him to prison for 12 weeks on the affray charge, but gave him 35 weeks consecutive for making threats to Mr Norman, making a total of 47 weeks behind bars.

Friend Anthony Bates, 46, who claimed he was the one owed the cash, pleaded guilty to common assault after admitting he punched Mr Norman before leaving him and Lyndsay fighting on the floor.

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Bates, who had fled from the house before police arrived, was given a 12-month community order which requires him to do nine rehabilitation activity days in that time. He will also be on electronic tag for three months.

Both men were made the subject of a restraining order banning them from having any contact with the victim for the next five years.

Recorder Jones said the affray went on for some time with Lyndsay and Mr Norman scrapping on the floor. Mr Norman's partner, who had a new-born baby in the house at the time, was "extremely hysterical" while she was calling 999.

She heard Bates and Mr Norman had fallen out over a supposed debt of several hundred pounds, but 47-year-old Lyndsay hardly knew Mr Norman.

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On the morning of November 5 the front door of the house flew open and Bates, followed by Lyndsay, burst in. Bates was said to have hit Mr Norman several times and was pushed out of the door by his girlfriend.

Lyndsay remained in the property and "ended up fighting on the floor of the living room," throwing punches and Mr Norman hitting back - "in self-defence" he claimed.

She told Lyndsay: "You went over the top in the heat of the moment."

Mr Norman suffered a cut on the chin, but it was not clear who had inflicted the wound. Both men denied being responsible.

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But when the matter came to court, with both men charged with offences of violence arising out of the incident, Mr Norman was with his partner and their baby in the foyer of the Crown Court building ready to give evidence as a prosecution witness when Lyndsay confronted him.

Paul Lyndsay was said to have "asked John Norman out" while he stood in the atrium of Preston Law Courts preparing to give evidence against himPaul Lyndsay was said to have "asked John Norman out" while he stood in the atrium of Preston Law Courts preparing to give evidence against him
Paul Lyndsay was said to have "asked John Norman out" while he stood in the atrium of Preston Law Courts preparing to give evidence against him

The incident was captured on CCTV. Lyndsay went "quite close" to Mr Norman and shouted: "Come out for a fight."

Recorder Jones told him: "He (Mr Norman) dealt with you robustly, telling you to get the **** out of his face. He said he didn't want to fight you and didn't want you near his baby in the pram."

Lyndsay continued shouting and threatening. The court was told he had both fists clenched and his shoulder forward "in a fighting stance."

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The girlfriend and baby had to be escorted to a more secure part of the court building while the threats raged on. Lyndsay was then ordered to leave by security staff.

Bates, of Marsden Road, Blackpool, was said to have seven previous offences dating back to 1999, including battery and criminal damage.

His barrister Claire Larton, said her client had shown "genuine remorse" and "wished he hadn't entered the property or lost his temper." "He recognises the impact his poor judgement has caused." She said Bates had told her: "This has ruined my life."

Charles Brown, for Lyndsay, said he had to accept there had been witness intimidation at the court building and there had been threats. "But it is also quite clear that the contact with the witness was unplanned."

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He told the judge that the incident in the foyer of the court had had no effect on the administration of justice that day.

He said about the previous incident which resulted in violence that Lyndsay's "entry into the home was perfectly justified - he went in there because his friend was in there." His client had not gone in intending to cause and affray, but he "went over the top."

Lyndsay, from Saville Road, Blackpool, had a record including 40 previous offences including some for serious violence. He had been in custody on remand since May of last year.

"He has a far from perfect record," said Mr Brown. Lyndsay, he explained, had suffered injuries in the fight with Mr Norman and said he had only acted in self-defence.

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Talking about his criminal record, Mr Brown said: "It is clear his downfall has been drink. The source of the problem has been drink. It has been the defendant's weak spot.

"He has, on his own admission, sought to use alcohol as a crutch or cushion when facing difficult events. But he has been dry in custody and he wants to remain dry."

Jailing Lyndsay, Recorder Jones told him that intimidating a witness in the precincts of the court was a "seriously aggravating factor."

She said she had considered whether to suspend his sentence of 47 weeks, but felt that, given the seriousness of the offences, it warranted an immediate term in prison.

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