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Grieving son locked parents in kitchen with brother's ashes

By NDJNews  |  Posted: January 03, 2014

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A GRIEF-STRICKEN son subjected his parents to a terrifying two-hour ordeal in which he locked them in their kitchen with the ashes of his dead brother.

Paul Coward blamed his father Barry for the death of his older brother Matthew, who died from alcohol abuse in 2012.

Coward hit his father so hard across the head that he perforated an eardrum during the drunken attack at their home in Hatherleigh.

He had already upset his parents by going into their bedroom where his mother was sleeping and playing loud music on a sound system.

The incident came to a head when he carried the ashes of his 32-year-old brother into the kitchen and barricaded his parents inside, Exeter Crown Court was told.

Coward, 27, of Smythen Street, Exeter, admitted causing actual bodily harm to his father and battery on his mother during the attacks in South Street, Hatherleigh, on December 6.

He was jailed for 28 weeks, suspended for a year, and ordered to do 120 hours unpaid community work and undergo alcohol counselling as part of 12 months supervision.

Judge John Neligan said: “Your parents must have been very frightened. It was a thoroughly low and mean thing to do.”

Terry Holder, for the prosecution, said the violence started after Coward returned home after drinking.

He refused to turn the music down and shut both his parents in the kitchen after they complained about Coward swearing and making threats.

Mr Holder said: “He was shouting and blaming his father for the death of his brother and problems he himself is having over access to his daughter.

“He closed the kitchen door and detained them in there for about two and a half hours during which he put his face into his father’s face, jabbed him in the ribs, grabbed him around the throat and pushed him over a worktop.

“His mother tried to intervene but he pushed her away.”

Mr Holder told the court Coward had threatened to slit his father’s throat and also threatened him with a pestle but did not use it.

“He slapped his father over the left ear with an open hand can caused a perforated eardrum and the loss of 80% of hearing in that ear.”

Nigel Wraith, for the defence, said Coward was an ex-youth worker and slaughterman who had problems with alcohol.

He said: “He tells me he loves his parents and is very


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