WHEN the police were called over a Rugby man’s violence and threats towards his ex-partner and her neighbours, they found a loaded sawn-off shotgun in a shed to which only he had a key.
But Joshua Nicholson fled the country to Spain before he could be caught – and was not arrested until after his return more than a year later.
Nicholson, 29, of Egerton Close, was jailed for five years, the minimum sentence he could be given after pleading guilty at Warwick Crown Court to possessing a prohibited firearm.
He was given consecutive sentences totalling a further 25 months for offences of affray, assault, perverting the course of justice and malicious communication, which he had also admitted.
And Judge Peter Cooke told him he would have to serve two-thirds of the total sentence of seven years and one month before he can be released on licence.
Prosecutor Matthew Barnes said Nicholson had been in a relationship with a woman, with whom he had a son, since 2014 – but it was a difficult relationship, and he had convictions for assaulting her.
On 22 June 2019, after they had split up, the woman was in bed at her Rugby home at 9.45 in the morning when Nicholson began banging repeatedly on the door.
When she answered he asked to use her phone, but she refused and said she would call a taxi for him, at which he snatched the phone from her and damaged it.
She was scared and tried to escape to her neighbours, and as she ran from him he kicked her hard to the knee.
Nicholson then went inside and smashed her television before arming himself with a knife from the kitchen and following her to the neighbour’s home.
As the woman, crying and asking her neighbour to call the police, was let in, Nicholson shouted abuse and threats to pour petrol through the letterbox and set the house on fire.
He then saw the neighbour’s teenage son in the back garden phoning the police and, after aiming vile insults at him, ran at him and punched him, knocking him to the ground and causing a cut to the inside of his mouth.
Nicholson then ran from the scene, dropping the knife, and the next day he fled the country to Spain, said Mr Barnes.
When the police arrived they searched a shed to which only Nicholson had a key and found a loaded sawn-off double-barrel shotgun and three spare cartridges – with his DNA on the trigger.
The day after the incident, Nicholson phoned his ex-partner in an attempt to get her to withdraw her complaint, offering her money to change her statement, but also bragging about his assault on her teenage neighbour.
He followed that up by sending threatening and abusive messages to her sister-in-law in which he threatened to kill her and set fire to her home.
And he chillingly told her: “I’m going to wipe out your whole bloodline, kids and all. I’ve already started sending your address to all the crack-heads in Rugby.”
After Nicholson, whose previous convictions included assaults on his ex-partner, dealing in class A drugs and assaults on police officers, a European arrest warrant was issued for him, but he was finally arrested outside his home in September last year.
Preet-Paul Tutt, defending, said: “He presents as a troubled individual. At a young age he was diagnosed with ADHD, and at a young age he fell into the wrong crowd, his mother kicked him out and he began taking drugs.”
He said Nicholson had contracted Covid-19 while in custody, and had spent 21 days in his cell, not even being allowed out for a shower.
Mr Tutt added that there was ‘a degree of contrition and remorse,’ and referred the judge to various passages in the court files where he made apologies to various of his victims.
But Judge Peter Cooke commented: “You’re not taking me to page 101 where he says [in relation to the teenager he assaulted] ‘I bet he’s not so lippy now.’”
Jailing Nicholson, Judge Cooke told him: “I am dealing with offending in 2019, after which you went overseas to evade arrest for over a year.
“There is simply no lawful purpose for anybody to have a sawn-off shotgun, let alone a loaded one. You are lucky the prosecution didn’t charge you with a much graver offence.
“The day after these events you sought to pervert the course of justice by ringing [your ex-partner]. It was a careful, determined and cynical attempt to get yourself out of trouble.
“I don’t believe there is real remorse here,” he added.