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Plasterer ordered to compensate journalist after four-letter pub threat

John GarveyA plasterer who threatened a local journalist in a pub over a story he had written has been fined and ordered to pay compensation to his victim.

Stephen Birmingham told Newbury Weekly News journalist John Garvey, pictured, he would “do” him if he put his “f***ing name in the paper again”.

Birmingham later replied in the affirmative when John asked whether he was “happy to beat up a 60-year-old man”.

The incident came after the self-employed plasterer had reportedly lost a client after they had read a court report written by John about Birmingham.

Alastair Yapp, prosecuting, told Reading Magistrates’ Court were he threats were made when both parties were drinking separately at the Taste of England pub, in Thatcham, Berkshire, on 4 September last year.

According to a Weekly News report of proceedings, Mr Yapp explained how Birmingham was reading a newspaper at the bar when he made a “loud comment” that “the only thing you can trust in here is the date”.

He then got up and walked over to John and said: “If you put my f***ing name in the paper again, I will do you.”

The court heard John responded by saying he did not know who he was and had no power to keep his name out of the paper, but Birmingham then said: “You know who I am and what I am talking about. If you put my name in again, I will do you.”

John then asked: “You’re happy to beat up a 60-year-old man are you?”

In response, Birmingham said: “Yeah.”

Birmingham then left the pub while John, who said he felt “shaken” following the incident, remained and finished his pint.

Sally Thomson, defending, described it as an “unfortunate incident” that lasted less than a minute and told the court Birmingham had reportedly lost a client after they had read John’s court report.   She said: “This appeared to be the cause of his annoyance at the local paper”.

Birmingham did not attend the hearing, citing medical reasons, and instructed his solicitor to change his plea to guilty on the day of the trial.

In doing so, he admitted using threatening behaviour and words likely to cause alarm, harassment or distress.

Birmingham, who has previous convictions for similar offences, was ordered to pay costs of £520 and a fine of £594.

He was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £59 and £100 compensation to John.