Biker spared jail after terrorising council staff at Sidmouth over parking tickets

Exeter Crown Court.

Exeter Crown Court. - Credit: Archant

A biker who terrorised council staff in Sidmouth in a row over parking tickets has been ordered to receive help with his previously undiagnosed autism.

A judge at Exeter Crown Court showed mercy on Damien Price after hearing that his illness lay behind a history of petty violence, which put him at risk of going to jail.

Price was angry about a string of tickets he had received from East Devon District Council after his campervan broke down in a car park and could not be moved.

He was homeless at the time and living in the van but was upset that officials did not show more sympathy to his plight.

He rode his motorcycle to the council’s offices at The Knowle, in Sidmouth, and became so violent and threatening, the receptionists thought they were going to be attacked.

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Mr Joss Ticehurst, prosecuting, said the incident happened on April 24, 2017 when Price went into the offices where a female employee was working on reception.

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

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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 and left saying ‘I’ll be back with boys and knives’.

Former pizza shop manager Price, 28, of Ebrington Street, Exeter, admitted threatening behaviour and being in breach of a previous suspended sentence.

He was jailed for three months, suspended for a year, curfewed for 28 days, and ordered to receive 25 probation supervision by Judge Erik Salomonsen.

The judge chose not to activate the 13-month suspended sentence imposed in December 2016 for an incident where he attacked a Domino’s Pizza customer who complained and threatened a police officer with a BB gun.

The judge said he spared him from prison because of the progress he had made working with the probation service since his autism was diagnosed late last year.

He said: “This was disgraceful behaviour. You became agitated, banged a telephone and threw water. It was completely unacceptable and you should not have done it.”

Mr Peter Seigne, defending, said an assessment carried out when he was nine had failed to pick up Price’s autism, which had only been properly diagnosed when he was awaiting sentence for this offence.

He added: “He is insightful, sorry, remorseful and ready, willing and able to move forward. He went to the offices at a time when he was homeless and his camper van had broken down.

“He could not move it from the car park and he spoke to those who controlled the car park. He found them unsympathetic and accumulated the tickets, which is why he went to the council offices.”

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