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Towpath cyclist confronted by man with axe, court told
11:20am Wednesday 18th September 2013 in News
A CYCLIST was confronted by a man with an axe who had become "annoyed" with people riding along a Droitwich canal towpath past the narrowboat he was living in, a court heard.
Paul Vale appeared at Worcester Crown Court yesterday (Tuesday) accused of wielding a yellow-handled axe at cyclist Dean Morris on April 6.
Prosecutor Benjamin Close said Mr Morris had been riding along the Worcestershire Canal towpath, near the Bridge pub in Tibberton, at around 7.30pm that night when he spotted a small fire on the grass verge and saw a man - later identified as Vale - stood in the middle of the path.
When Mr Morris noticed the axe, Mr Close told the jury, he was forced to stop. Vale then began walking towards him, so he began to back away and called his partner, Patricia Ashford, who then called police.
"The defendant was drunk and threatening, and his dog was circling Mr Morris' feet," he said.
"It caused Mr Morris to be very scared. He was very conscious that there was no one else around."
As he escaped, he knocked a workbench into the canal, the court heard.
Mr Close said Vale, aged 57, who had been living in the houseboat moored on the canal in Tibberton, Droitwich, was uncooperative and had to be forcibly removed from his barge by officers, who also found a yellow-handled axe in the cabin of the boat.
In evidence, Mr Morris - who said he had a special licence from British Waterways to be able to cycle along canal towpaths - said he had been "very frightened" by the incident.
"He was walking towards me and swearing. It all happened that quickly and I was that frightened I can only remember effing and blinding," he said.
"There was no way I was going past just in case he took a swing.
"I'm still scared now and can't sleep. I can see that man's face in my head."
He also said he had seen Vale in that location four days before, and said Vale had shouted: "What do you think this is, a runway?" at him as he passed.
Mr Close told the jury Vale's version of the story was that he had put a workbench and a 'shut' sign across the path to try to deter people from going past, as he was "annoyed" at the number of cyclists passing his boat.
He told officers in interview Mr Morris had tossed the workbench into the canal, shouting at him, causing the argument - which Mr Morris denied in court.
Vale also told police he had not left the boat and did not confront the cyclist.
Defending, Sabhia Pathan (CORR), suggested Mr Morris had actually seen the axe on the first occasion he saw Vale, who was using it to chop wood. Mr Morris denied this.
Vale pleads not guilty to a charge of affray.
The trial continues.
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