Two brothers await sentencing after assaulting a debt collecting enforcement officer

Chesterfield magistrates' court.
Chesterfield magistrates' court.

Two brothers assaulted a High Court enforcement agent by pushing him after he had visited one of their homes to recover a debt.

Chesterfield magistrates’ court heard on Friday, June 15, how Neil Tony Botham, 46, and Stephen Craig Botham, 50, admitted pushing enforcement officer Barry Croft when he and a colleague visited Stephen Botham’s home at Corner Pin Close, Staveley.

Prosecuting solicitor Michael Treharne said: “The case involved High Court enforcement agents going on December 1 and on December 13 and they were serving warrants or intending to recover debts dealt with by their office or High Court that were outstanding.”

Officers are entitled to enter properties, to take photos and to look for assets or anything that might settle a debt if payment is not forthcoming.

Mr Treharne added: “They work for an agency and turn up with cameras and body armour to some extent and they encounter some difficult people as part of the job.

“On these two occasions difficulties arose with aggressive and abusive behaviour towards them. They were called a variety of names and told to get off the property.”

The court heard that one of two visiting agents, Barry Croft, was pushed in the chest and his tablet computer was knocked out of his hand by a kick.

Both defendants approached Mr Croft again after the police had arrived, according to Mr Treharne, and continued to be abusive and during their arrest Stephen Botham continued to insult the officers.

Mr Treharne said the enforcement agents went back to get payments and were shown a cheque but this did not prove at the time that any payments had been completed.

He added: “Never the less, the behaviour of the defendants was appalling, and to use a phrase - and with pictures available with sound - they completely lost it and treated these people with contempt.”

Neil Botham, of West View, Barlborough, who has no previous convictions, pleaded guilty to assault by beating against Barry Croft after the incident on December 1, 2017.

The court heard that Stephen Botham, of Corner Pin Close, Staveley, has previous convictions for violent disorder, harassment offences, threatening behaviour and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

He pleaded guilty to assault by beating against Barry Croft, using threatening behaviour and admitted damaging the computer tablet from December 1, 2017.

Defence solicitor John Wilford said: “Neil Botham is a man of good character. His behaviour was a push into the enforcement officer and he understands that and accepts that was an assault.

“Stephen Botham accepts he lost it and enters a guilty plea to a public order offence, and that the assault was a push and he accepts the damage to the tablet was a reckless action and not deliberate.”

Magistrates adjourned the case until June 25 to consider probation reports before sentencing.