Botched revenge attack sparks premature labour
A BUNGLING intruder who broke into the wrong home in an attempted revenge attack left the occupant so scared she went into premature labour.
Weston man Paul Vince had spent the night drinking at an office party when he decided to go and confront a former neighbour who he held a grudge against.
The 23-year-old, of The Barrons, stopped en route at a McDonald’s restaurant to steal a fire extinguisher, which he then used to smash a window at the flat he targeted.
Vince then climbed inside, unaware that he had gone to the wrong home, and had never met its owner Scott Blackburn or his heavily pregnant wife Sarah Dolton.
When the couple returned home and saw Vince climbing through the window, he attacked Mr Blackburn, Exeter Crown Court heard.
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After injuring Mr Blackburn’s hand, Vince fled – but the commotion had forced Ms Dolton into labour.
Her baby was delivered safely, and Vince was arrested that same night.
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He pleaded guilty to offences of common assault and theft, and was sentenced to a four-month curfew and ordered to pay �100 compensation by Judge John Neligan.
The judge said: “It must have been a very upsetting experience for (Mr Blackburn) and his partner, who was expecting a baby and went into premature labour.
“This was all to do with a grievance you had, which may or may not have been justified, with someone who was not connected with that property.
“You don’t have a bad record; you are in work; and you are supporting your family and the least sentence I can impose is a curfew order.”
Alex Allsop, prosecuting, said Vince had always maintained he had gone into the flat looking for another man, and not with the intention of stealing anything or damaging Mr Blackburn’s home.
Joss Ticehurst, defending, said: “My client got the wrong end of the stick and caused a lot of inconvenience which he wants to apologise for.
“He is very sorry for upsetting and hurting two completely innocent people. In one sense this offence was fairly trivial, the theft of a fire extinguisher after an office party. It was just silly drunken tomfoolery.”