Angus man escapes jail after Letham pub hammer threat

© DC ThomsonForfar Sheriff Court.
Forfar Sheriff Court.

A drunken man who charged into an Angus village pub brandishing a hammer after a fall-out with a fellow drinker has narrowly avoided going to jail.

James Gouck punched his victim outside Letham’s Commercial Inn before threatening to shoot him.

The 36-year-old then returned to the venue wielding the weapon, Forfar Sheriff Court heard.

Gouck, now of Braintree in Essex, admitted assaulting the man by punching and struggling with him, as well as behaving in a threatening manner and brandishing the hammer at the pub on December 8 last year.

Depute fiscal Laura McGillvery said the victim had been drinking with a friend in the bar around 4pm when Gouck came in.

“The accused was known to the complainer but they did not acknowledge each other,” the fiscal added.

Around an hour later the man went for a cigarette and Gouck followed him outside, where he told him to get out of his way and then punched him without warning.

The fiscal said the incident escalated at around 5.10pm.

“The entrance doors to the bar swung open and the accused pointed the hammer at the complainer shouting, ‘get outside now, I’m going to kill him’,” she said.

The victim went to pick up a pool cue to defend himself but Gouck was taken out of the pub and walked off in the direction of the man’s home, saying: “I know what to do about it.”

Police were called and he was arrested.

Defence solicitor Nick Markowski said: “They are both regulars in this pub. Letham’s a small place, there had been something that happened previously and they just avoided each other.

“Mr Gouck is entirely in the wrong on this occasion – it was fuelled by alcohol.

“What has worked for him is moving away and getting himself sorted out. He is apologetic and remorseful,” added the solicitor, who said the accused had been banned from the pub as a result of the incident.

Sheriff Gregor Murray told Gouck: “You were in some respects very fortunate this case was dealt with at summary level.

“Any person who waves a hammer around in a pub, for whatever reason, is at risk of going to jail.

“You are no stranger to the courts but don’t have what might be called serious convictions. I’m persuaded, just, that there is an alternative to custody.”

He placed Gouck on a one year community payback order with supervision and ordered him to carry out 180 hours unpaid work.

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