Man who threatened St Albans council workers found guilty

St Albans Magistrates Court

St Albans Magistrates Court - Credit: Archant

A man has been found guilty of threatening to ‘get a gun and shoot everybody in the council’ after customer services were unable to deal with his complaint.

Anthony Eacope, 51, of Tassell Hall, Redbourn, appeared at St Albans Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, January 26, charged with using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to cause persons to believe that unlawful violence would be used against them.

Eacope, who pleaded not guilty, went in to the Civic Centre in St Peter’s Street on June 29 last year, with a complaint which was dealt with by customer services staff. He was put through to the housing department and then given the option to call the complaints team. On his way out he walked past customer services employee Jessica Green, who was working at the reception desk.

Speaking as a witness in court, Miss Green said: “I could hear a commotion. He was a little bit agitated.

“He walked away towards the automatic doors and as he walked past I heard him say ‘I am going to get a gun and shoot everybody in the council’.

“I was scared at the time.”

After Eacope left the building, Miss Green spoke to the staff member who had been dealing with Eacope’s complaint and their team leader, who overheard, called the police. Miss Green acknowledged in court that Eacope did not shout the words, they were to himself, and not specifically targeted at anyone, and he did not make any gestures with his hands.

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Prosecutor Miss Muller said: “There was nobody there to protect [Miss Green] if he did come back in.”

Eacope, defending himself, denied that he had made the threat. He said: “I went to speak to the guy on the desk and he put me through to someone from the housing department.

“It wasn’t a very good line and I couldn’t hear what she was saying. She didn’t seem interested, she wasn’t being very helpful.

“I gave the phone back to the guy and he put me through to the complaints team. I said ‘don’t bother’. I said ‘goodbye, have a nice day’ and then I went out.”

Eacope denied walking directly past Miss Green’s desk when he left the building, and denied that he was agitated. He said: “I wouldn’t even recognise who she was unless I had eyes in the back of my head.

“I mumbled to myself about people not doing their jobs properly. She must have misheard or something.”

The magistrate, who took into account Eacope’s previous good character when deciding the verdict, said: “It’s your word against hers. We see no reason why Miss Green would have made up this story.

“You told us that you didn’t say those words and that you were mumbling on your way out. We find you guilty of this offence and we are anticipating a low level community order.”

Eacope will return to court for sentencing on Friday, February 17.