A FATHER has been fined hundreds of pounds for chasing a man with a piece of wood after learning he had attacked his teenage daughter.
Stephen Hale, 48, of Langley Close, Dovercourt, admitted possessing an offensive weapon in a public place, when he appeared before Colchester magistrates.
The court heard he approached Michael Richmond in Dovercourt High Street at around 9pm, shouting: “I know it was you”.
Mr Richmond, the exboyfriend of his daughter Tara and the father of her 10- month-old son, ran away. Hale chased him, but did not catch him. He had just been told Mr Richmond had broken into Tara’s flat, trashed her things and assaulted her.
During the break-in, he destroyed the baby’s cot, highchair and toys.
When Tara, 18, returned home to find him, he assaulted her and stole her purse.
Mr Richmond was sentenced to eight weeks in prison for the offence, which he carried out while on licence for a previous conviction.
James O’Toole, mitigating, said: “When Mr Hale heard this, he was extremely concerned and upset, as any loving father would be.
“He had no chance of catching up with him – the male was much younger and faster than him. He accepts there is no excuse for his actions.”
Hale, who has no previous convictions, made full admissions during his interview with the police.
The mechanic said he had the piece of wood in his car to prop up vehicles he was working on.
He said he only took it out of the car for protection, as he had been told Mr Richmond was carrying a knife.
Chairman of the bench, Martin Stuchfield, said: “It clearly isn’t acceptable for members of the public to take the law into their own hands.”
Hale was fined £400 and ordered to pay an extra £135 in costs and victims surcharge.
Following the trial, Mr Hale and his wife Emma spoke of their anger he had been given such a large fine, compared to Mr Richmond’s short prison sentence.
He said: “When is justice justice?
“I know what I did was wrong, but I didn’t hurt anyone.
It was very spur of the moment. I think it is a bit harsh.”