Muslim convert carried axe to meeting with father over "religious differences"

Clayton McKenna appeared at Newcastle Crown Court
Clayton McKenna appeared at Newcastle Crown Court

A Muslim convert was found carrying an axe through the streets to confront his Christian father over "religious differences", a court heard.

Newcastle Crown Court heard Clayton McKenna was taking the weapon - which he got from his mother's shed - through Boldon Colliery in the early hours of the morning, to his father's
home in South Tyneside on July 18.

The 22-year-old gave a series of "confused and contradictory" explanations when he was stopped by the police, including saying he was on his way to his father's "to ask him to bow down to me" - a statement he now rejects.

McKenna made initial claims that he had intended to use violence against his dad because of their different religious beliefs but also said he did not want to hurt or injure anyone and had the weapon for his own protection.

McKenna, of Kingsland Square, Downhill, Sunderland, pleaded guilty to causing criminal damage to his mother's shed, having a bladed article and having a small amount of cannabis.

He has been in custody in remand since his arrest.

Judge Penny Moreland told McKenna: "It appears you were sober, you had not been drinking or taking drugs. There has been an examination by the mental health team and they are satisfied there are no mental health issues I ought to be taking into account.

"You made a series of statements, both at the scene and in interview shortly afterwards, as to what you intended to do and what was in your mind. It is right to say they were confused and contradictory.

"The statements included a suggestion that you were going to use violence against your father, amongst a number of reasons you said was because he was a Christian and you were a recent convert to Islam.

"I am concerned that there is no real explanation for your confused thinking that morning, nor for those threats made, even though they appear to have been without substance."

The judge sentenced McKenna to a three year community order with rehabilitation requirements and supervision.

Prosecutors initially believed McKenna intended to cause some harm to his father with the axe and he originally faced a charge of possessing an offensive weapon in relation to it.

But, after high-ranking CPS officials and police officers reviewed the case, it has now been accepted that he did not intend harm.

Judge Moreland said it was a confused collection of explanations for McKenna carrying the weapon, including his "own protection" and the "religious differences".

David Comb, defending, said McKenna was in a "mixed up frame of mind" last summer due to the breakdown of his relationship, his relocation to a new area and the loss of his job.

Mr Comb said McKenna had made a recent decision to follow his Turkish step father into the Muslim faith, where he felt welcomed and loved at a time when he had been "lonely and disorientated".

The court heard McKenna has been attending prayers in prison.

Mr Comb added: "It was really a delayed, bad adolescent episode in relation to his father.

"He does not agree he was going to ask his father to "bow down" but he was going to discuss his differences with his father."

Mr Comb said McKenna had been taking cocaine in the days before the incident but "was not under the influence of any substance" at the time of it."