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Thug who battered man with his own walking stick worked as a drugs courier

The 59-year-old went berserk at the garage forecourt in Bangor, lashing out at a man with punches and kicks in a senseless row

James Preshaw (59), of Meadowvale Drive, Bangor, pleaded guilty to assaulting a man on December 18 last year

Steven MooreSunday World

A foul-mouthed thug who battered a man with his own walking stick and told this paper to ‘F**k off’ was once a drugs courier, we can reveal.

Last month we revealed how James Preshaw pleaded guilty to assaulting another man, who uses a walking stick, after blowing his top in the queue to pay for petrol.

The 59-year-old went berserk at the Solo/Mace forecourt in Bangor, Co Down, lashing out at a man with punches and kicks in a senseless row last December.

He broke the man’s walking stick after using it to bash his rival over his head and before leaving the scene he scattered his shopping all over the forecourt.

Preshaw who lives in Bangor, pleaded guilty to assaulting the man just seven days before Christmas.

During his sentence hearing it emerged Preshaw already had a criminal record before he went ‘Christmas crackers’ 12 months ago.

Indeed, his defence team described his criminal record as being of “considerable vintage”.

Sources have revealed Preshaw’s ‘vintage’ record includes links to a drugs gang.

In 2010 he once again escaped jail after he was stopped with a kilo of cannabis resin in his car.

The then 47-year-old had a four-month prison sentence suspended for a year after being described as “a busted flush” in court.

A judge who also fined him £200 refused a prosecution request for his car to be forfeited.

Preshaw, who at the time lived in Greystown Avenue, Belfast, was detained by police. The cannabis, with a potential street value of £5,000, was hidden in his car.

He was charged with possessing class B drugs, and possession with intent to supply.

Belfast Magistrates Court heard how Preshaw told police he knowingly picked up the drugs but claimed to have acted under duress at the time.

A defence lawyer said police regarded Preshaw as someone “at the bottom of the chain” and argued: “Mr Preshaw is a busted flush. Individuals who used him in this enterprise are not going to use him again.”

Preshaw went berserk when the Sunday World called him to ask him about his more recent conviction for battering a man with his own walking stick.

A prosecutor told the court the injured party said he made a comment to another customer, Preshaw, in a petrol station shop in relation to “social distancing” and the defendant “muttered something under his breath”.

At the forecourt, the prosecutor said, the men then had a “verbal altercation” at a vehicle and Preshaw “lashed out,” striking him with his elbow.

The prosecutor added: “The defendant punched and kicked the injured party before hitting him with his walking stick over his head and breaking it.

“He then kicked the injured party’s shopping across the forecourt”.

But an agitated Preshaw told the Sunday World the dispute had nothing to do with social distancing.

Initially he seemed happy to tell his side of the story but that soon changed when we asked just how the man was he beat-up.

He also claimed he was acting in self-defence and that the other man, had not only been the aggressor but had also issued threats to him.

“I went in to pay and there was a one-way system operating in the shop because of Covid,” Preshaw told us.

“It was reported that it started over a comment about social distancing but that’s nonsense, it had nothing to do with social distancing, it was about jumping the queue.

“There was a woman walked in front of me and this guy turned up without queuing and the guy behind the counter on the till was oblivious.

“I told the man he’d walked in front of both of us and he told me to ‘F**k off, I’ll get you sorted’ – he threatened me.

“Then he came out of the shop and he threatened me again. I was defending myself.”

Preshaw chose not to fight the charge of assault and pleaded guilty.

There’s no evidence the injured man made any such threats – but Preshaw on the other hand does have a criminal record himself.

Preshaw’s petulant temper started to fray after a couple of minutes when we inquired how old was the man he assaulted.

“Well I’m sure you know all the details so do whatever you want but I’m telling you you’d better not put my name in the paper,” said Preshaw.

“I was the target of a loyalist death threat a long time ago and anything that happens to me – you’ll be responsible. I’m going to speak to my solicitor about this.”

When we told him his name was already in the public domain for the walking stick attack and that as he was a convicted criminal we had a right to use his name in the paper he replied, “Well then you can just f**k off then,” before he hung up the phone.

A defence lawyer explained Preshaw had prepaid for fuel and after the “verbal altercation” within the shop, he had been “minding his own business filling up his car when he is approached by the complainant”.

The lawyer alleged that the complainant had squeezed past and a petrol cap was “broken off”.

The lawyer said Preshaw had then reacted “badly” and when the walking stick ended up on the ground, the defendant lifted it and struck out at the complainant but, he added, there were “no substantial injuries”.

Preshaw was fined £300.

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