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Alcoholic jailed for axe threat

AN ALCOHOLIC has been jailed for 15 months after he threatened two social workers with an axe and held them hostage in his Chester home.

AN ALCOHOLIC has been jailed for 15 months after he threatened two social workers with an axe and held them hostage in his Chester home.

James Boyd, 45, had just been told his four children would be taken into long-term foster care when he 'lost control' on November 6.

He was due to stand trial in May for affray and two counts of false imprisonment, but he pleaded guilty to affray on the morning of the case.

The other two charges were left to lie on file.

Judge Mervyn Hughes QC, sitting at Chester Crown Court on Tuesday, told Boyd he had left his victims Nigel Atkinson and Judith Griffiths 'frightened' and fearful that something else might happen to them.

'It was difficult enough for the Social Services to heve to tell you the decision had been made to take your children into long-term care,' said the judge. 'It is not news which any social worker would wish to give to any parent.'

Prosecutor Andrew Jebb said Boyd and his wife Angela, who had four children at the time and have since had a fifth, were assessed to see if they were able to cope with their family.

He said: 'The Boyds always made their views very clear that the children should return home to live with them.

'Mr and Mrs Boyd were assessed as unable to cope with the needs of the children and they should go into care.'

On November 6 Mr Atkinson and Miss Griffiths went to the Boyd's home in Prenton Place, Handbridge, to tell them about the decision.

'They arrived at the house and were invited in by Mr Boyd. The meeting began in a professional, friendly way,' said Mr Jebb.

'There was some amount of small-talk. It was explained the children would not be coming home and the reasons for this were explained.'

After hearing the news Boyd went 'very pale' before heading into the kitchen where he removed a large axe from a cupboard, the court was told.

'He was described as having it over his shoulder and said to the two social workers 'you're for it now', which caused them to be extremely frightened,' said Mr Jebb.

Boyd went back into the kitchen and the two social workers heard him locking the doors. Boyd told his dog to 'make sure they didn't leave' and asked his wife to get masking tape.

'Boyd said he intended to keep them hostage and put them in intensive care at one point,' added Mr Jebb.

'He said: 'If you hurt the Boyd family then you will be hurt'. He told the social workers he knew where they lived and was going to take their children from them.'

After about 35-40 minutes Boyd calmed down, called the dog away from the door and allowed the social workers to leave.

Simon Killeen, defending, said Boyd 'overreacted' to the news his children were going to be taken from him.

'What was in my client's mind was he wanted them, they wanted him. He was clearly very emotional at the prospect of them not coming back,' he said.

Judge Hughes told Boyd: 'You deciding to react in this way has produced dreadful concequences for both Nigel Atkinson and Judith Griffiths.

'I accept you did not intend to use the weapon but the consequences are that since then it has been on their minds constantly and they are frightened that something else might happen.'


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
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