A MAN brandished a knife at the window of an Appleby pensioner’s home before returning to make an offensive gesture.
The 77-year-old householder was inside her Meadow Close property at lunchtime on 8th August. She was watching her daughter and 18-month-old great-grandson play outside.
As they came inside, she glanced and saw neighbour Donald Campbell Lauchlin-Hirst, 60, staring from his home into the front garden before walking towards her address.
“She was unsurprisingly wondering what was going on,” prosecutor Tim Evans told Carlisle Crown Court. “He came up close to the window of her house. She noticed at that stage he had a knife in his hand and was brandishing it towards her, as if making some sort of threat.
“He appeared to be shouting something. She didn’t know what it was.”
The woman alerted her daughter, at which point Lauchlin-Hirst walked back into his home. “He came back out, across to her house, right up to the window and at that stage stuck up two fingers to the occupants of the house,” added Mr Evans.
“She was left feeling extremely shaken and upset, mostly in shock and didn’t expect anything to happen like that whilst in her own home.”
An eyewitness and mental health worker who saw the incident from a distance believed Lauchlin-Hirst “appeared to be displaying mental health issues or alcohol problems around the time of the offending”.
His lawyer, Jeff Smith, said he had been prescribed a “cocktail of medication”. “At the time of the commission of this offence he concedes he had consumed alcohol that day. His mental state was confused and, to a great extent, paranoid,” said Mr Smith. “He very much regrets the commission of this offence.”
Lauchlin-Hirst, of Meadow Close, admitted illegal knife possession and a public order offence. After hearing he was receiving help for mental health issues, Recorder Lawrence McDonald suspended an 18-month jail term for two years, and ordered the defendant to complete a rehabilitation requirement.
“I just ask you to imagine the fear that the woman must feel seeing a physically large man brandishing a knife when she herself is elderly and no doubt somewhat frail because of her age,” said the judge. “The fear she must have felt for herself, her daughter and great grandson must have been intense.”