Detoxing

Man trashed friend’s house during lockdown ‘mayhem’

A mentally ill man who wrecked a friend’s house on the day he was let out of hospital was found wearing one of her dresses when police arrived.

Matthew Lock was arrested repeatedly over the space of two months for shouting racist abuse at the police and ‘causing mayhem’ with his anti-social behaviour.

He repeatedly spat on or soiled the cages of police vans after his arrests, most of which took place during the Covid 19 lockdown, causing expensive cleansing operations.

He threw knives and crockery into the gardens of his former neighbours in Newton Abbot and was seen stabbing a For Sale sign with a knife opposite a primary school.

He caused £2,500 damage to the house in Rushworth Place, Exeter, where he was found semi-conscious through drink outside the front door, sitting in pouring rain and wearing a soiled dress.

He had tried to light a barbecue by burning books, had emptied the freezer and thrown the food around, and had soiled several rooms with his excrement.

The owner of the house, who was the wife of a friend, returned to find it wrecked with broken crockery strewn around the house and garden. He had started a small fire in the dining room with a crisp packet.

He told police that he had gone to the house to prepare a meal for his friend which he said would be a “nice surprise”, but things had gone wrong after he started drinking.

A judge at Exeter Crown Court described that explanation as the understatement of the year and deferred sentence until February to find out how Lock responds to a new regime of psychiatric treatment.

Lock, aged 41, formerly of Coronation Road, Newton Abbot, but now of Fraser Drive, Teignmouth, admitted five counts of criminal damage, two of assaulting emergency workers, three of racially aggravated threatening behaviour, and one of breach of the peace.

Judge Timothy Rose deferred sentence and told Lock he would not go to jail if he stays out of trouble, remains in his accommodation, and carries on working with the mental health services.

He said: “These offences all took place during a comparatively short period of time during which you caused utter mayhem and did some terrible things which caused great distress to other people.”

Miss Francesca Whebell, said the offences started on February 10 this year when Lock was released from mental hospital and went to the house in Exeter where he caused extensive damage.

He was arrested again on February 27 for stabbing a For Sale sign within sight of primary school children and again on April 10, 16, 21, 29, and May 9 and 18 for various acts of anti-social behaviour.

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He lashed out at police or spat in police vans repeatedly, including on one occasion when he was suspected of being infected with Covid.

He shouted racist and homophobic abuse at police during the arrests, including calling one officer a black bitch. During one arrest, when he was drunk, he asked police to get him a pasty.

Lock was eventually remanded in custody after smashing a radio while he was being released from the Haytor Unit at Torbay Hospital.

Mr Herc Ashworth, defending, said Lock re-engaged with the psychiatric services after being bailed and found new accommodation in Teignmouth. He is now more stable and has stayed out of trouble for almost five months.

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