Gardener confronted gang of youths with baseball bat after stepson attacked

A gardener confronted a gang of youths with a baseball bat after his stepson was attacked.

Tuesday, 18th February 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 18th February 2020, 10:40 am

Self-employed gardener Lewis Hetherington, 27, picked up a baseball bat to confront up to 20 youngsters.

South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court heard he did so after his stepson came home beaten up and bloodied for a second time.

Hetherington, of Waskerley Road, Barmston, saw “red mist” at 8.45pm on Friday, December 27, and went outside to challenge the gang.

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A defence solicitor has described the Barmston area of Washington as a "lawless" place.

Defence solicitor Angus Westgarth said: “He’s taken the bat outside to scare them off. When they see the police, they take advantage and said ‘he’s got a baseball bat’.

“There were seven boys in total but four there who are known. They beat people up gratuitously.”

Mr Westgarth added: “He’s made a mistake that will not be repeated. He’s trying to leave the area, it appears that the area is a bit of a lawless state.”

Prosecutor Paul Anderson had earlier said: “There’s been some issue with youngsters in the Barmston area.

Lewis Hetherington, 27, of Waskerley Road, Barmston, picked up a baseball bat to confront a gang of up to 20 youths.

“A PC attends and there’s about 20 youngsters there.

“Mr Hetherington is walking towards these youngsters, towards the police vehicle. The officer gets out to see what on earth is going on.

“Someone then shouts ‘can you help, he’s got a baseball bat?’ and then disappears off into the ether. He hands over the bat, he is arrested.

“He said that he wouldn’t have hurt them but could have intimidated them. His partner’s son had been assaulted.

Inspector Nick Gjorven, of Northumbria Police, has rejected the "lawless" suggestion.

“He lost his temper, basically that was it. He was going to chase them away, to put the fear of God into them.”

Hetherington, who admitted possessing an offensive weapon in a public place, received a 12-month community order and must complete five days’ rehabilitation with the Probation Service.

He must also pay a £90 victim surcharge and £85 court costs, while the bat will be destroyed.

After the hearing, police rejected the suggestion that Barmston is “lawless” and insisted “reports of anti-social behaviour in Barmston are relatively low compared to elsewhere”.

Neighbourhood Inspector Nick Gjorven, of Northumbria Police’s Washington Neighbourhood Policing Team, said after the case: “We understand the impact that anti-social behaviour can have on people’s lives but we reject the suggestion that Barmston is lawless.

“Reports of anti-social behaviour in Barmston are relatively low compared to elsewhere in the region where specific operations have been launched to combat rising disorder.

“But we are not complacent and we remain committed to working with partners to tackle offences associated with this type of behaviour and address concerns of residents.

“Our dedicated neighbourhood team will continue to carry out highly visible patrols to identify anyone involved and take appropriate action.

“Education is also key and we have relationships with local schools that sees officers regularly visit pupils to speak to them about the consequences of this type of criminality.

“If people have concerns about anti-social behaviour then do not take matters into your own hands, contact police so we can tackle the issue.”