Rugby man wielded knife at girls’ 16th birthday party

The case was heard at the Justice Centre in Leamington
The case was heard at the Justice Centre in Leamington

A man who turned up at a birthday party for two teenagers and chased the father of one of the girls with a knife has been jailed.

A judge told Stenard Lawrence that the fear caused to his victim and to the 140 children at the party made the incident too serious for him to be given a suspended sentence.

Lawrence, of Bath Street, Rugby, had pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to charges of affray and possessing an offensive weapon.

The 30-year-old, who had celebrated his own birthday just days before his court appearance, was jailed for 18 months.

Prosecutor Andrew Wilkins said that in November last year the parents of two girls organised a joint 16th birthday party for them, with 140 guests, at the Valley Sports club in Rugby.

There were a couple of incidents during the evening, both of which had involved the same girl who was asked to leave or escorted out of the venue on both occasions.

The girl went home where she told her mother, who was in the early stages of a relationship with Lawrence, and her mother and Lawrence then turned up at the party.

The mother confronted the father of one of the birthday girls and punched and scratched him, while he was also punched by someone else from behind, and he had to go to hospital with a suspected broken jaw.

Lawrence then produced a knife and approached the other girl’s father who ran outside to the car park, chased by Lawrence.

As the father got into his car and tried to lock the door, Lawrence pulled it open, so he climbed out of the other door and ran off again, with Lawrence in pursuit.

There was a struggle during which the father was injured as he fell to the floor although, being fair, he attributed his injuries to the ground rather than any contact with the knife.

Lawrence made no comment when he was questioned after his arrest at the scene, but later pleaded guilty on the basis that he had not lunged at the father on the car park with the knife.

David Everett, defending, said Lawrence, who had no previous convictions, had come to this country with his family from Jamaica in 2001, and has formed a number of relationships, as a result of which he has five children who he sees regularly.

He works at a warehouse, and Mr Everett said: “This is a man who, perhaps, the court could treat as someone who has acted significantly out of character.

“This was an offence committed in haste by a man who was in a fairly recent relationship and not acting as thoughtfully as he might have done. He went to the scene to support her, and got involved.”

Mr Everett said Lawrence then pulled out the steak knife he had been using when his partner’s daughter had got home, and which he had taken with him, but did not harm anyone with it.

And he added: “There are several references which show the real character of this man. I would ask Your Honour to consider whether, exceptionally, in this case there could be a suspended sentence.”

But jailing Lawrence, Recorder Lance Ashworth QC told him: “Your partner confronted one of the parents and began to assault him, and you joined it.

“You then produced a knife in front of the various children there and approached the other father and threatened him with that knife and chased him round the bar and outside into the car park.

“This was clearly a very frightening incident for him and must have been a very frightening experience for the children who were there.

“Even if the reason you put it in your pocket was because you happened to be eating with it at the time, there was no justification whatsoever for producing that knife.

“There was no reason whatsoever for brandishing that knife and chasing that father round the bar and across the car park.

“I have had it urged on me that if possible I should pass a suspended sentence in this case. Regrettably I think that, because of the aggravating factors, it is not.”