A part-time judge told two neighbours that knife crime was a “blight on society” as he jailed them for arming themselves before brawling with each other in public.
James Johnson, 52, and John Flannigan, 43, were armed with knives and a samurai sword when they squared up to each other.
Leeds Crown Court heard the two men are also work colleagues and friends but fell out over how much they had been paid. Clare Walsh, prosecuting, said the two men argued over the phone in the early hours of June 9 this year.
Flannigan, who was drunk, then left his home on Whincover Road, Farnley, Leeds, with a samurai sword and went to challenge Johnson. Johnson armed himself with two kitchen knives and the two men “wrestled” with each other on a grassed area in front of their properties. Johnson’s partner called the police and the fight was broken up by another neighbour.
The fight had ended by the time officers had arrived but both men were arrested and taken to hospital. An empty sword sheath was found on the sofa at Flannigan’s home. Flannigan had suffered a one-centimetre puncture wound below his jaw,
Flannigan pleaded guilty to affray and possession of an offensive weapon. Johnson also pleaded guilty to affray and two charges of possessing an offensive weapon. Lawyers representing the pair described them as hard working men who were usually friends. They both accepted that they had acted foolishly. Both men were jailed for 18 months.
Recorder Simon Eckersley told them: “You are grown men, not silly adolescents. This was an extremely grave and dangerous piece of public violence. Knife crime is a blight on society. The criminal courts treat the use of knives and blades and swords very seriously indeed.
“It was more a process of luck than judgement that either of you were not seriously or even fatally injured.”
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