A plasterer who was shouting at children in a park just days after a crown court judge spared him the clang of the prison door has now been jailed.

Sending Leigh Clarke, 30, to prison for seven months on Friday, Judge Nigel Daly told him: “When this court gives a suspended sentence it means it.”

Clarke received a six-month suspended sentence last summer for assault and witness intimidation. He attacked a man in Witney town centre in 2019 then ordered the victim to ‘change his statement’ a few weeks later after following him into a video game store.

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Oxford Crown Court heard on Friday that, just two months before that suspended sentence was imposed, on June 13 last year Clarke was responsible for a fracas in a Carterton curry house.

Clarke and his friend enjoyed a meal at the Aangon restaurant. When staff printed off the bill, the friend made his excuses, claimed to need the toilet then walked out of the business.

The defendant tried to use the friend’s card to pay for the £69 meal, but the bank card was declined as there were insufficient funds on it.

He grew angry at a staff member’s reluctance to let him leave the restaurant to withdraw cash.

Clarke pushed the manager then picked up a dinner fork and ‘pushed it towards his stomach’. The manager was shoved again, causing hm to fall on one of the tables. He stormed out of the restaurant without paying for the meal.

Two months later and within six days of his crown court appearance, at around 6pm on August 16, he was shouting at children playing in a park off Moorland Road, Witney.

One mum was so worried she put her children in the car then got in the vehicle herself. Clarke marched over and grabbed at the vehicle, meaning the woman was unable to drive away.

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A man walking his dog in the park came to the mum’s aid, but the defendant got hold of the dog’s lead – leaving its owner worried the animal might be choked.

The police were called and Clarke was arrested at the scene.

Dana Bilan, mitigating, asked the judge not to activate the six-month suspended sentence imposed last summer. Clarke had a new job in plastering. He was remorseful and ashamed of what he had done, and had offered to pay compensation to his victims.

Clarke, of Well Lane, Curbridge, pleaded guilty at the magistrates’ court to threatening behaviour, common assault, assault by beating and making off without paying for food.

Judge Daly activated four months of the suspended sentence and added three months for the new offences.

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This story was written by Tom Seaward. He joined the team in 2021 as Oxfordshire's court and crime reporter.  

To get in touch with him email: Tom.Seaward@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @t_seaward