Penarth man that threatened to kill family spared jail

NEWPORT CROWN COURT: James Lee Harries appeared at Newport Crown Court on Tuesday, April 1 (5038027)

NEWPORT CROWN COURT: James Lee Harries appeared at Newport Crown Court on Tuesday, April 1 (5038027)

First published in News

A PENARTH man who left an eight-month-old girl needing hospital treatment after he smashed a window at her home and then threatened to kill her family has been spared jail.

James Lee Harries was accused of smashing the window leaving a “vulnerable” eight-month-old, who was lying on the settee, with cuts and blood on her face, after attempting to gain entry to the property by damaging the front door.

Harries, who was described as a “functioning alcoholic” at the time, caused around £1,000 worth of damage to the house before fleeing the scene after police were called.

Police later found him in an “agitated” state and he admitted throwing a copping stone through the window while being chased away.

He was also found with a weighted glove that he said he used in his trade as a scaffolder.

After pleading guilty to charges of assault, affray and criminal damage Harries, 32, was handed a 14 month suspended sentence when he appeared at Newport Crown Court on Tuesday, April 1.

His Honour Judge Rhys P Rowlands said he would have imposed an immediate custodial sentence but suspended it for two years as he believed Harries showed genuine remorse and had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.

Outlining the case prosecuting barrister John Probert said Harries, of Tennyson Road in Penarth, went to the property on December 11 last year and smashed the living room window before attempting to gain entry to the property through the front door.

The eight-month-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was lying asleep on the settee in the living room when Harries smashed the window with a copping stone.

He said that both the mother and daughter suffered injury from the shattered glass, with the child having two cuts on her head, as well as cuts on her cheek, chin and hand from the shattered glass.

She was later taken to hospital to be X-rayed to ensure there was no glass embedded in her hand.

Her mother also had cuts to her forehead, chin, lower and upper arm, and hands.

The court heard Harries entered the house, saying 'I'm going to f****** kill you' to the family’s grandfather, who was said to be “distressed and concerned for the safety of his family”.

A neighbour who phoned police said they heard screaming from the property and believed the family was being "murdered".

In mitigation barrister David Pinnell said Harries had pleaded guilty at the earliest possible opportunity, that the incident was “completely out of character” and that he had not been in trouble for ten years before it took place.

He added that since being released on bail from custody in early January Harries had used the time productively to find employment and was no longer an alcoholic.

At the time of the incident he was coming to terms with the death of his mother and had started using alcohol “as a crutch” and became a “functioning alcoholic” as he began drinking to a significant degree.

He added Harries was now “full of remorse” and he had “conquered his alcoholic demons” and was now recovering from it.

His Honour Judge Rhys P Rowlands said the incident had been a “terrifying experience for everyone in the house” and he didn’t regard the defendant's actions as “out of character” because of his previous convictions.

“What makes the offence more serious is that the violence was targeted at the family in their own home and that significant damage was caused,” he said.

Harries was handed a suspended sentences of eight and 14 months for assault and affray, with both terms to run concurrently

He was also ordered to pay compensation of £1,000, prosecution costs of £500 and a victim surcharge of £100.

He was also ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work, must complete an alcohol specific requirement and was made subject to a five year restraining order against the family.

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