Dad injured in debt dispute

Burnley Magistrates' Court
Burnley Magistrates' Court

A Barnoldswick dad was injured in front of his fiancée when a gang – one of them armed with a baseball bat – turned up at his home in a dispute over an alleged debt.

Rowan Gane was left bruised after his daughter Chloe’s ex-boyfriend Oscar Fletcher (20), his brother Toby Fletcher (19), and their half-brother Aaron McGinty (30) who had the weapon, went “mob-handed” to Smith Street, with two friends to try and sort it out.

Burnley magistrates heard how Oscar Fletcher and Miss Gane had been lent about £300 for a holiday in Tenerife by her father when they were together and Fletcher thought he had paid it back.

Trouble started after a visit to Todber Valley Holiday Park, Clitheroe, where groundsman Fletcher worked, by “big Bob” a “very wide, 6ft 6” “ debt collector, who was said to have “ demanded money with menaces,” and warned him off going to the police.

Oscar Fletcher, of Colne Lane, Colne and Toby Fletcher, of Copperfield Close, Clitheroe, both admitted common assault on May 15th.

They were each sent to an attendance centre for 15 hours. McGinty, of Becks Crossing, Trawden, pleaded guilty to possessing an offensive weapon and was given a 12-month community order, with 60 hours unpaid work.

All three must pay £50 compensation, £100 costs and an £85 victim surcharge. The bench chairman, who said the trio’s actions had been a “big mistake,” told McGinty: “It’s madness in itself taking something like that.”

Miss Andrea Fawcett, prosecuting, said an attempt by Mr Gane, through a third party, to get the money back, appeared to be a catalyst for what happened.

She said when McGinty was questioned, he told police Oscar Fletcher was scared of Mr Gane, he decided to go along with him and took the baseball bat as a “ deterrent”.

Miss Fawcett said: “There is no evidence he used the baseball bat.” She added Oscar Fletcher had no record, Toby Fletcher had no convictions and McGinty did have a record.

Mr Geoff Ireland, defending Oscar Fletcher, told the hearing Fletcher described Mr Gane as a “stocky man” who “liked a few drinks”.

He felt he had paid him the money back. Fletcher thought he had handed over about £150 and he had done some work for him and bought materials.

The solicitor continued: “I think the group thought they could sort it out amicably without any fisticuffs.”

Mr John Rusius, for Toby Fletcher and McGinty, said the defendants had gone round to talk to Mr Gane “man to man,” and not to be violent, after being threatened there would be further trouble if they went to the police.