Catnip Close case: not guilty

A former Axminster man found not guilty of assault and possession of a weapon.

A FORMER Axminster man, who claims his life was made a misery by youths, has been found not guilty of common assault and possession of a weapon - due to lack of evidence.

Mark Richard Burridge, 30, of North Street, Langport, appeared at Central Devon Magistrates’ Court last Monday to face charges that on August 16, 2010, he assaulted Daniel Passmore in Catnip Close, where he was living at the time.

Daniel Passmore, who was 17 at the time, told the court that he was out with a group friends on his BMX bike and a man (Burridge) came out from his house and started shouting at the group of four saying ‘Whose nose am I going to have to break first’.

Mr Passmore said that Burridge went around the group repeating this phrase and came towards him.

He said: “I was sat on the seat of my bike. He grabbed me around my neck with two hands. I pushed him away, then that was the point he headbutted me - his head came forward and his forehead impacted on the top of my nose. I fell behind my bike and the man walked back into his house.”

Mr Passmore told the court that Burridge then went into his house and returned with what he thought was a baseball bat, which he struck against a wooden fence.

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The teenager, who had a bloody nose, then returned home and was advised by police to go to the hospital. The court heard that Mr Passmore and his friends would usually meet on the estate where they would practise their BMX and skateboarding tricks.

Mr Passmore denied claims that it was an accident and that Burridge was pushed from behind.

Richard Meads, who was walking home from work at the time, told the court he saw a group of six to eight males riding on their bikes and had heard the accused shout ‘You kept me up ‘til 1 o’clock last night’.

He said he heard one of the group cry out ‘I can’t believe I’ve been headbutted, I’m only 15’ and saw someone with a bloody nose.

Mr Meads, who contacted the police, described how he saw the defendant go into his house and come out with what looked like a baseball bat or piece of wood and was banging it on the tarmac, saying ‘Come on, if you thinking you’re f****** hard enough’.

PC Lee Perry, who visited Mr Passmore at his home, said: “He was quite upset and did have injuries – his nose was swollen around the bridge area and there was a red colouration around the bridge of his nose and two prominent lumps on the bridge of his nose.”

Ian Brazier, defending, questioned whether there had been problems with local youths and whether officers had knowledge of the EX1 Crew.

Burridge, who has since moved away from the Axminster area with his partner Delia Kiddle, said he had contacted police on previous occasions about anti-social behaviour on the estate.

The court heard he and his partner had been woken up by loud talking and mobile phones coming from outside and Burridge went out to confront a group of youths.

He said he confronted one of the group (Daniel Passmore) and said ‘Are you going to f****** move on?’ to which one of them replied ‘What are you going to do about it?’

Burridge said: “I was shoved by one of the group. I stumbled and pushed away from the group and pushed my hand out which made contact - I don’t know what it made contact with.”

He then returned to his house and did not go out again. He denied returning with a baseball bat.

The chairman of the bench, Edwina Bradshaw, said: “To the first allegation of possessing an offensive weapon, we feel there is no evidence of an actual bat being used to threaten the victim and we, therefore, find the case not proved.

“For the common assault it is very similar to the possession and it is agreed the defendant approached the group and had a confrontation with the group outside of the house. The facts in dispute are how the injury to Daniel Passmore was caused and whether or not the injury was intentional.

“Also in dispute is whether you stumbled and whether or not you were shoved. Also in dispute was how many times you came out of the house and the make up of the group. Based on the evidence, there are far too many inconsistencies and the lack of credible witnesses means the case has not been proved and you are not guilty.”