A car dealer who threatened to shoot his colleagues during a showroom brawl over a football sticker has narrowly avoided jail.
John Thompson punched and shoved two co-workers at Ron Brooks Toyota in Mansfield after an argument over a Liverpool FC stick-on card got out of hand.
As reported by Car Dealer earlier this month, he pleaded guilty to two counts of assault during a previous hearing at Mansfield Magistrates’ Court and today (Nov 21) returned to be sentenced.
Car Dealer was present in court as magistrates handed him a 16-week prison term, suspended for 18 months, and ordered him to pay his two victims £100 each in compensation.
An emotional Thompson, of Inkersall Green Road, Inkersall, held his head in his hands as he sat in the dock and listened to how events unfolded on October 24.
The court was told the 51-year-old, who wore a pale pink shirt in court, hurled abuse at his colleagues, calling them ‘p*****’ and shouting: ‘We will go outside and fight like men. I will smash your f****** head in’.
He then grabbed his boss by the throat before shoving him into some nearby tool lockers and punching him in the mouth.
When five horrified employees stepped in to stop the attack, one was hit in the head by Thompson in the melee, and his glasses were knocked from his face.
The court was also shown CCTV footage of the defendant attacking his co-workers.
In witness statements summarised in court, staff members at the dealership said they believed Thompson’s threats as he had ‘connections with the Gypsy community’ and they therefore ‘feared reprisals’.
At the earlier hearing, the court was told how Thompson had threatened to shoot his colleagues with a gun and was heard arranging for a weapon to be delivered, the Derbyshire Times reported.
Mitigating, Donna Pursglove said her client had been on the verge of a mental breakdown at the time of the incident.
She told the sentencing hearing: ‘This started over a stick-on card. It is something very small that got well out of hand.’
She added: ‘He is a father of two kids. His elder child was struggling at school, there was bullying, and they moved to this area for a fresh start.
‘Unfortunately, the child still struggled and this put a huge amount of strain on the family unit.
‘Adding to that, his father passed away in the past two years and this seems to have exacerbated problems.’
Thompson, who arrived in court sporting a grey beard, lost his job as a result of the incident and is now hoping for a new career as an HGV driver.
Pursglove said he was now set to begin counselling after taking the month of June off work with stress.
Thompson also admitted resisting arrest after he tried to stop officers from handcuffing him following the incident.
Officers later found cannabis during a search of his home, which he told police he had ‘found while out walking’ and he admitted a single charge of being in possession of a class B drug.
When magistrates left the court to consider their sentence, Thompson briefly left the dock to enter the public gallery, where he openly wept as he hugged his partner.
Handing down the sentence, magistrates told him: ‘Clearly, the two most serious charges are the two assaults and they are what we are sentencing on.
‘They were particularly nasty. We did see punches being thrown, we may not have seen them connecting, but we did see them being thrown [in the CCTV footage].
‘In terms of sentencing, for assault one we are sentencing you to 12 weeks in custody and that is reduced to eight weeks for your guilty plea.
‘On assault two, it is also 12 weeks in custody, reduced to eight weeks for your guilty plea.
‘We have reflected in that sentence the other offences of the obstruction and the possession, so there is no separate penalty for those.
‘The totality is 16 weeks’ custody. We are prepared to suspend this sentence as we do think there is a realistic prospect of rehabilitation, so we suspend the sentence for 18 months.’
Thompson was also ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work and attend 50 rehabilitation days.
He was spared having to pay prosecution costs or a victim surcharge due to his ‘limited means’ as a result of losing his job.
Car Dealer has made a request for the CCTV footage to the Crown Prosecution Service.
Main image via Google Street View