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Probation officer was threatened by drunken Michael Starling at St Austell meeting

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: January 13, 2014

A DRUNKEN man from Roche who used "aggressive and threatening" behaviour towards a probation officer has been jailed for eight weeks by magistrates.

Michael Starling, 32, had begun drinking following his brother's death on the day after Boxing Day, Bodmin magistrates were told.

At an appointment with his probation officer Michelle Rees in her St Austell office at lunchtime on New Year's Eve Starling disclosed that he and his brother had vowed that when one died, the other would take their own life.

He told Ms Rees he had consumed three bottles of Southern Comfort and eight cans of Special Brew.

Barry Hilliard, for the prosecution, said that during the meeting Starling made threats to kill a Stoneham housing officer, banged his head on the table, swore and pushed a chair over, as well as stepping towards Ms Rees who felt uncomfortable at this aggressive and threatening behaviour.

Starling, of Tremodrett Road, appeared before the court in custody on Thursday and admitted using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to cause Ms Rees harassment, alarm or distress. The offence had been committed while he was on bail to Truro Crown Court and subject to a community order.

Rob Eccleston, for the defence, said that for six years Starling had been a homeless street drinker whose offending was linked to that lifestyle and breaches of an Asbo.

On December 11 he had been released from custody, where he had been on remand, and due in part to his efforts while detained accommodation had been found for him in Roche. The death of his brother, to whom he had been very close, had been "the worst possible thing to happen to him".

His subsequent comments to the probation officer had been empty threats. He had been sober when he first went to the office in the morning but could not be seen, and when he returned he had been drinking and "spouted a load of nonsense".

Mr Eccleston urged the magistrates not to send Starling to prison due to the "exceptional circumstances".

In an impassioned plea to the bench Starling reiterated that request, asking to be allowed to carry his brother's coffin at his funeral, but chairman of the bench Frances Tregaskes told him that while his bereavement had been taken into consideration, the offence was aggravated by the fact that the victim was a public servant doing her duty.

The jail term included sentences for taking a vehicle without consent, failing to provide a specimen for analysis and two offences of criminal damage, after a community order was revoked.

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