Glasgow & West Scotland

Man chased councillor with chainsaw

Conrad Procter Image copyright Stewart Robertson
Image caption Procter was said to have "some troublesome attitudes" by the sheriff

A man has been spared jail after chasing a councillor down the street with a running chainsaw and threatening to cut his head off.

Conrad Procter brandished the chainsaw at Labour councillor Paul O'Kane, who was campaigning for former party leader Jim Murphy ahead of last year's general election.

The incident happened in Barrhead, East Renfrewshire, on 6 April last year.

Procter was sentenced to a Community Payback Order at Paisley Sheriff Court.

Sheriff Seith Ireland said 40-year-old Procter had "come very close" to going to prison.

The court had previously heard how Mr O'Kane, 28, had been canvassing in Procter's street in the Auchenback area of Barrhead ahead of the general election.

'Red Tories'

Procter, who was in his garden at the time, was heard shouting "Red Tories get out of here" before telling Mr O'Kane: "I'll cut your head off" while holding the chainsaw and chasing him down the street.

He had denied behaving in a threatening or abusive manner by shouting, swearing, acting in an aggressive manner, threatening violence while in possession of a running chainsaw and following Mr O'Kane down the street while holding it.

But he was convicted following a trial last month, with sentence being deferred for him to be assessed by social workers.

When Procter returned to court for sentencing, defence solicitor Raymond McIlwham described his client's conduct on the day in question as "unusual and very serious."

He added: "He accepts involvement in this incident but he continues to dispute that any persons were pursued down the street - what he disputes is any movement by him outwith his garden area.

"He's not stupid and fully appreciates how serious this is. Such behaviour simply can't be tolerated in a civilised society.

"It was a gross overreaction fuelled by temper and fuelled by passion on Mr Procter's part, which was totally misplaced and wholly unacceptable."

Political beliefs

He asked for leniency for his client, saying he was "willing to make compensation to the victims or the Labour Party."

Sheriff Ireland said he was "persuaded just" that custody could be avoided.

As he placed Procter on a 12-month Community Payback Order as a direct alternative to custody, the sheriff said: "What makes this offence serious is, of course, that it was committed during the currency of a general election campaign.

"It matters not anyone's own, individual, political beliefs - what's important is that anyone's and everyone's political views must be respected in a civilised society, and especially during a time when the country is effectively choosing it's Members of Parliament, Member of European Parliament or local councillors.

"We have the democratic procedure of elections which citizens can participate in and any of the politicians participating in can go round the houses by speaking to citizens in the voting area canvassing, as was the case here, without fear."

The sheriff said Procter had "some troublesome attitudes", and told him: "You've come very close to going to custody."