Man who held samurai sword to teenager's throat avoids jail

Exeter Crown Court
Image caption David Sheppard, 28, of Southernway, Plymstock, was jailed for nine months, suspended for two years

A man who held a samurai sword to the throat of a 16-year-old boy he thought had stolen from his grandmother has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Fuelled by four pints of lager, David Sheppard, 28, carried out the attack at a youth club in Plymouth in October.

The judge sentenced him to nine months in prison but suspended the sentence for two years after hearing Sheppard had been tackling an alcohol problem.

He was also ordered to complete 80 hours of unpaid community work.

'Good progress'

Exeter Crown Court head how the demolition worker slapped the boy and held the 3ft (0.9m) sword to his throat before he was disarmed by adults who came out of the Morley Youth Club in Broadlands Gardens, Plymstock, to intervene.

Sheppard, of Southernway, Plymstock, admitted having a blade in public, criminal damage and assault.

His case was heard at Plymouth Crown Court in November but Judge Graham Cottle deferred sentencing to give Sheppard a chance to treat his alcohol abuse.

He told him: "When you first appeared before me you could not have complained if you had been sent to custody because the principal offence involved you producing a samurai sword in public."

However, Judge Cottle said Sheppard had made "such good progress in addressing alcohol misuse" he would mark the offence with a sentence, but suspend it.

Ian Graham, prosecuting, said the offences took place outside the club on 22 October 2014 and involved threats with the sword, slapping the boy, and kicking in a window.

William Hart, mitigating, said: "My client has turned a corner and everything is looking very positive for him."

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