England

Lapland park man found guilty of threatening barrister

Henry Mears
Image caption Henry Mears has been released from prison but is subject to a home-tagging detention curfew

One of two brothers jailed over their sub-standard Lapland theme park in the New Forest has been found guilty of contempt of court.

Henry Mears, of Coombe Road, Brighton, made threats of violence to barrister Gary Lucie during his original trial.

A new prosecution barrister had to be brought in by Dorset Trading Standards, Bristol Crown Court heard.

Mears denied the offence but was found guilty by a judge. He received a 28-day prison term suspended for a year.

The 60-year-old must also pay costs of £750.

'Appeared threatening'

Earlier in the trial, Mr Lucie said Mears told him that "mechanisms were in place to hold those responsible" for bringing the Lapland trial to court.

Mr Lucie, who had been prosecuting the case on behalf of Dorset Trading Standards, said Mears' demeanour and body language had appeared threatening.

He said he was so shocked by the threat that he brought the matter to the attention of the Lapland trial judge.

The incident on 29 November led to Mr Lucie stepping down and a new prosecution barrister had to be found.

Image caption The Mears' were jailed for 13 months for selling misleading advertising for a Lapland-themed park

Judge Mark Horton decided the allegation was so serious that it should treated as a contempt of court.

Mears and his brother, Victor, ran the Lapland New Forest attraction in 2008.

They were each jailed for 13 months in March after they were convicted of eight charges of misleading the public.

Thousands of customers complained of being ripped off and of misleading advertisements.

Both brothers have since been released from prison but are subject to a home-tagging detention curfew.

Mr Lucie said that Judge Horton had adjourned the brothers' trial that afternoon after Victor Mears, 67, had been taken ill and was sitting at his desk.

"The judge had risen and Henry Mears came past me and he said to me words to the effect of 'you can see he's an ill man. Mechanisms are in place to hold those responsible for this [trial] and he shouldn't be on trial'.

"He was leaning over me and it was not said in a jovial way. He was angrily pointing at me.

"I was shocked, actually. It was not something I have ever experienced before.

"The court logger said to me 'has he just threatened you?'

"It was not 'I'm going to get you' - it was more subtle than that."

Pub assault

Another incident took place minutes later outside the courtroom.

"Henry Mears showed me his inner lip and said it was bruised, and said he had been assaulted in the pub because of this case," Mr Lucie said.

"I said that should not have happened and then he put his arm around me and said something like: 'Calm down, young man', and then he said something about punching me in the face."

Betty Monkton, court logger, told the court she also heard the alleged first threat being made.

"He [Henry Mears] was stood at the side of him, leaning over him," she said.

"It was said slowly and angrily, I felt, and it was the tone that caught my attention and it was because of the words that I looked up.

"Mr Lucie was sat down and Henry Mears was leaning right over him and I just had the feeling he was threatening him.

"It was his body language and his demeanour that made me feel that."

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