Suspended sentence for Penarth man who 'lost control' in row over loud music
A GYM owner from Penarth Marina, described as an upstanding citizen, has been given a suspended jail sentence after he ‘lost control’ and ‘terrified six young men with an axe’ in a row over loud music.
David Nelson, aged 55, was given a 32-week term, suspended for 18 months, when he appeared at Cardiff Crown Court last Wednesday (October 3).
Nelson, owner of Peak Physique Gym & Fitness in Cardiff, admitted charges of affray, two counts of assault, and having a bladed article in a public place.
Suspending his sentence, the judge said his impressive character references, including testimonials from former police officers, together with his guilty plea and his obvious regret over the incident, saved him from an immediate custodial sentence.
The court heard the incident took place on August 2 when, ‘seething with rage’, he attacked a group of men, including two students, who were playing loud music inside a flat at Plas St Pol de Leon in Penarth Marina.
Prosecutor John Warren told the court that such was the extent of Nelson’s aggression, that one of the men fled the scene fearing for his personal safety.
Mr Warren said: “At about 10pm, Mr Nelson approached two of the men who were outside smoking. He was antagonistic and began shouting ‘is it you making that noise’.
“The two men were apologetic but the defendant continued to be aggressive again shouting, ‘I’m going to knock you out’, and after one of them ran off in fear he followed the other into the foyer of the building, trapping him inside, and punching the wall next to his head.”
Mr Warren said Nelson then went to fetch a small wooden axe from the boot of his vehicle.
“The defendant jammed the axe through the door of the flat concerned, preventing it from closing,” he added.
“Eventually the men inside managed to shut it and called the police.”
Defending, David Leathly said Nelson, frustrated by other incidents of being kept awake at night by loud music, had merely intended to frighten the men, “He has been systematically subject to such incidents on other occasions,” said Mr Leathly.
“But on this occasion, having had a sleepless night the night before, he seethed with rage.
“He accepts that he totally lost control, and is ashamed of his disgraceful exhibition of histrionics. He also accepts that the men had reasonable grounds to fear for their safety, such was his conduct.
“However he maintains that he only meant to frighten the men, and not cause any actual harm. And while he threatened several things, he did not actually hurt anyone.”
Mr Leathly said he found it difficult to remember a more glowing array of testimonials in support of Nelson, including statements by former police officers.
“He is otherwise an upstanding and industrious citizen of clean character,” he added.
“He owns a gym which attracts up to 100 young men a week who look up to Nelson, and which gets them off the streets, stopping them causing the kind of situations he created on this occasion.
“He has also raised hundreds of pounds for charity through the gym, and the humiliation and genuine shame on his part about what happened is obvious.”
Sentencing Nelson, His Honour Judge Daniel Williams said: “You used an axe to terrify these young men. This was an outrageous and ugly incident of which you should be ashamed.
“But I am satisfied your obvious regret justifies a suspended sentence.
“Three things have saved you - your previous good character, the impressive testimonials I have read, and your guilty plea.”
Nelson was also ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work, and pay £250 costs.