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Hythe man Carl Birks jailed for nearly 10 years after threatened to kill students with meat cleaver

A FOREST man threatened to kill a group of students, holding a meat cleaver against their necks, over a £25 debt, a court heard.

Carl Birks barged into their house on Ashford Crescent in Hythe looking for a former occupant last New Year’s Eve but would not leave despite being told she was not there.

Southampton Crown Court heard Birks (31), of Beech Crescent in Hythe, was “visibly intoxicated” as he pulled out the cleaver and put the blade to the throat of the woman who answered the door.

Offender was "intoxicated" Southampton Crown Court heard
Offender was "intoxicated" Southampton Crown Court heard

Prosecutor Leigh Hart told the court Birks pushed his way in and ordered her and two other occupants to sit together in the living room.

He told them that if they did not comply with his demands he would kill them, and one-by-one put the weapon against their throats.

Another occupant, who had been asleep in bed, was woken by Birks barging into his bedroom and also had the cleaver put to his neck.

Birks told him: “Do you want to die for £25? One of you is going to pay.”

The four victims were forced by Birks to go to a nearby cashpoint and one withdrew £40. Birks then waved them off as they left the scene.

Victim impact statements read to the court heard the students thought they were going to die.

One said: “It was very scary; he was so vicious towards us.” Another said: “I was so frightened. All I could think of was that I could not say goodbye to my family”.

The victims suffered sleepless nights and nightmares, and one had lost their “freedom” after moving back to live with their family.

Birks was arrested shortly after the incident and gave a no-comment interview to police.

The court heard that earlier that evening Birks had also gone to the home of his former employer and made threats to burn down the house.

The victim had answered his door at around 11.30pm and was met by Birks who brandished a meat cleaver before lunging at him.

He felt the cold metal of the cleaver against his neck but managed to push Birks away.

The victim had “no idea” why Birks was at his home and thought they had been on amicable terms.

Birks then told him: “I’ll burn your house down, I promise you.”

The victim, whose wife and children had been in the property, was left “confused, shocked and scared”.

A victim impact statement added he no longer felt safe in his home.

Defending, Katie Williams told the court: “Nothing I say is intended to minimise what was an incredibly serious and frightening incident.

“He cannot account for his actions that day but his regret is genuinely palpable. He realises how absolutely terrified they must have felt and how unfathomable it was to act in that way for just £25.”

She said Birks had been sober “for quite some time” until the incident, dedicating himself to his family and children.

She added he had a “renewed commitment” to religion and “had given himself to Jesus”.

Birks had previously pleaded guilty to robbery, four counts of threatening a person with a blade and damaging property.

Sentencing him to nine years and four months in prison, Judge Christopher Parker KC said: “After a period of abstinence, you fuelled yourself with a thoroughly dangerous combination of alcohol, drugs and your mother’s prescription medication, and you became a terrifying, angry and violent man.

“You visited the home of your former employer, showed violence towards him, and threatened to burn down his house with his family in it.

“You then went to a house containing four students [and] over a substantial period of time you threatened them with a meat cleaver.

“They were understandably and genuinely in fear that they would lose their lives that night; they were completely terrified.

“This is a long sentence, as it has to be. However, I hope you will build on the work you have done [already in prison].”

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