Prison for man who threatened to kill Town takeaway owner

THREATENING to kill a Town food takeaway owner and petrol bomb his business landed Toby Hunt with a six-month jail term.

The Royal Court building on St James Street, St Peter Port. (28841457)
The Royal Court building on St James Street, St Peter Port. (28841457)

The Magistrate’s Court was told how the defendant, 32, of Flat 3, 16, Pedvin Street, St Peter Port, had told the man he would use his head for Sunday dinner and bake him in his own pizza oven.

The defendant admitted sending menacing messages to the man via the telecommunications network and threatening to destroy his property.

Messages included racist comments and threats to harm family members.

Prosecuting officer Sarah Watson told the court how the men had known one another for about three months because the defendant had done some deliveries for the other man.

During the evening of 23 August, the defendant and a friend entered the takeaway and were shouting at the owner about money before they were removed by police.

In the early hours of the following day, the takeaway owner received texts and voice messages from the defendant threatening to kill him and damage his property. Some of them were played to the court.

The defendant told the man he was about to go through his restaurant door and ruin his life.

On the morning of 31 August, after he heard that police were looking for him, the defendant called them from a device that had the same number as the one from which the malicious messages had been sent.

At about 10.30am he attended the police station voluntarily and he was arrested.

He said then that he had lost his mobile phone.

When the messages were played to him, he laughed and gave no-comment responses to questions in interview.

He had a conviction for criminal damage from 2007 and had also been sentenced to six and half years in prison for a drug offence.

In a victim impact statement, the takeaway owner said the incident had affected him greatly.

In 30 years in business he had always worked on his own and this had been the first time he was scared to open his doors. He had trouble sleeping and was constantly worried.

Advocate Samuel Steel said his client denied shouting at the man in his takeaway on the evening before the messages were sent.

His client had supplied delivery drivers to the takeaway and felt he had been let down because they were being asked to turn up when they were not needed.

He was in the process of setting up his own business and alcohol had reduced his inhibitions.

He had sent the same messages to five people on a group chat, which was hardly the actions of someone who intended to carry the threats out.

Judge Russell Finch said the takeaway owner would not have known that.

Advocate Steel said his client, when sober, had felt bad about what he had done and had looked to build bridges ever since. He respected the other man as both a friend and a businessman. No further threats had been made between those on 24 August and 31 August when his client was arrested.

His client could not believe some of the things he had said and he had a great sense of guilt and shame. He had not used his own phone to send the messages and could have sought to blame the phone’s owner.

He was not a man with a violent record and his landlord had provided a character reference for him. While he felt he had countered his issues with class A substances, it had been replaced by an alcohol problem.

Judge Russell Finch said he noted that the defendant’s parole licence for the drug sentence had been withdrawn when he tested positive for cocaine.

This was a serious matter and if the courts did not deal with such things properly then they were not doing their job.

He imposed sentences of four months in prison for sending the messages plus two months, consecutive, for threatening to destroy the takeaway.

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