Former Honiton man shown mercy after missing probation appointments

PUBLISHED: 17:00 19 September 2017 | UPDATED: 09:13 20 September 2017

Exeter Crown Court. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref exeter crown court

Exeter Crown Court. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref exeter crown court

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Paul Freeman was at risk of having a suspended sentence which was imposed for a violent confrontation at a Honiton pub put into effect.

A judge has shown mercy to a single father who missed probation appointments because he was left in sole charge of his two young children.

Paul Freeman was at risk of having a suspended sentence which was imposed for a violent confrontation at a Honiton pub put into effect.

He broke the suspended sentence order by missing a series of meetings with probation officers over seven months when his partner was unwell and he had sole care of two children who are both under the age of three.

Freeman has moved from Honiton and is now receiving help from social services to look after the children.

He received a 16-month suspended sentence at Exeter Crown Court in December 2015 for a bizarre incident when he went to the Orange Tree pub in Honiton armed with a baseball bat and a knuckleduster.

He claimed he had been attacked with a knife earlier and went home before returning with the weapons, which he did not use because at the time he had injuries to his leg and arm.

His arm was in plaster and he had stitches in his leg and had fallen over by the time police were called. They found him with a small amount of cannabis hidden up his sleeve.

Freeman, aged 33, formerly of Streamers Meadow, Honiton, admitted two counts of possessing offensive weapons, one of possessing cannabis, and one of threatening behaviour.

He was jailed for 16 months, suspended for two years and ordered to pay £280 costs at Exeter Crown Court in December 2015.

Freeman admitted being in breach of the sentence but Judge Graham Cottle decided not to activate it and instead ordered his to receive five more days supervision from the probation service.

He told him: “You missed appointments and fell off the radar when your engagement with this order ceased in November last year, but the time came two months ago when you re-engaged very successfully and started attending all appointments.

“Normally, people who breach suspended sentences serve their sentence. I am not going to order that because of what I have heard about you and because the probation service are willing to work with you again.”

Miss Anita Noerr, prosecuting, said Freeman complied with the order until he lost contact with probation. He was taken to court for missing meetings between November and August.

He was arrested and brought to court last month and this led him to resuming his cooperation with probation officers and taking part in rehabilitation activities.

Mr Nigel Wraith, defending, said the problems arose when Freeman’s partner became unwell and he was left in sole charge of their two very young children.

He is now being helped by social services, who have sent him on a parenting course to help him cope with his new responsibilities.

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