Biker leaves Sidmouth council workers shaking with fear, court hears

Exeter Crown Court. Ref exeter crown court

Exeter Crown Court. Ref exeter crown court - Credit: Archant

A biker left council staff shaking with fear after he burst into their offices to complain about parking tickets.

Damien Price was wearing full leathers and a crash helmet when he pushed his way into the secure area of East Devon Council’s offices at The Knowle in Sidmouth, and tried to get upstairs.

A receptionist at the front counter was ‘terrified’ she was going to be attacked after he slammed the desk and set off into the building.

Former pizza shop manager Price was angry about a number of parking tickets which he was disputing and had ridden to the offices to confront staff in the parking department.

He took off his helmet when he entered the offices and was allowed to use a phone in reception to speak to the parking department.

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He lost his temper, slammed down the phone, which almost hit the receptionist and a male employee who was on his first day at work.

Price put his helmet back on and defied orders not to go upstairs to the council offices, where staff were able to lock themselves in and call the police.

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Price, aged 28, of Ebrington Street, Exeter, admitted threatening behaviour and his sentence was deferred for three months by Recorder Mr Paul Dunkels, QC, at Exeter Crown Court.

This offence put him in breach of a 13 month suspended sentence imposed in December 2016 for an incident in which he attacked a customer who complained about a pizza topping and threatened a police officer with an imitation gun.

The judge told him he was deferring sentence because Price has been diagnosed with autism since carrying out the latest offence and the probation service wanted to tailor the work they were already doing with him to accommodate the new diagnosis.

He said: “You were rude and aggressive towards young members of staff at the council offices. They were utterly terrified by your behaviour and were subjected to a frightening ordeal by you at a time when you were on a suspended sentence.”

Miss Emmi Wilson, prosecuting, said the incident happened on April 24, 2017.

She added the receptionist was terrified after Price became aggressive during his call to the parking department and started slamming the receiver on the desk, where it bounced off the surface and hurtled towards her.

He put on his helmet and said ‘where’s the parking team? I’m going to f***ing kill them’. He was told to stop but carried on into the building and went upstairs where he tried to enter restricted areas without success.

The receptionist used an alarm to call the police as Price came back downstairs. He threw a cup of water at the workers behind the desk and left saying ‘I’ll be back with boys and knives.

The victim made a statement saying: “I was so scared I was shaking like a leaf. I could not help thinking what would happen if he headbutted someone with his helmet.

“After it ended, I had to take time off and have a glass of water. I was still shaking an hour afterwards although I continued to act professionally.”

Mr Warren Robinson, said Price has recently been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome and autism, which explained his behaviour on this and earlier occasions.

He said the probation service had asked for the three month deferment so they can study how they can offer better support for Price in the light of the new diagnosis.

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