A man has appeared in court from his garden shed during a remote hearing in which he used his mobile phone to make a video call to the judge.
Shaun Tucker was conditionally discharged at Exeter Crown Court after he pleaded guilty to threatening a neighbour with a hammer during an argument over a missing bicycle.
The case was run on the Courts Service’s new cloud video platform which is currently being rolled out around the country and enables remote access by computer or mobile phone.
The judge and an usher were in court but Tucker and both prosecution and defence barristers all attended remotely during a 40-minute hearing.
Tucker, who works as a roofer and kitchen installer, joined the video conference by mobile phone in a wooden shed with a sloping roof and tools hung on the wooden wall behind him.
He had to confirm that he was in a private and secure place and that no-one could overhear the court proceedings.
His connection dropped out briefly during the case but was restored in time for the sentence to be delivered by Judge David Evans.
Tucker, aged 39, of Barnstaple, admitted threatening behaviour and was conditionally discharged for a year and ordered to pay £100 compensation to the neighbour, and £50 costs.
The judge told him: “You became unreasonably angry about your missing bike which your neighbour had offered to help you to locate.
“You sent some intemperate text messages the evening before and in the morning, for a reason I find difficult to understand, you got a hammer from your home and engaged in threatening language and behaviour.
“She believed unlawful violence would be used and was very, very scared. There was higher culpability because a hammer was used.”
The judge made a two year restraining order banning Tucker from contacting the victim or going to her flat at Ebberley Court, Barnstaple.
Bathsheba Cassel, prosecuting, said Tucker lived nearby at the time of the incident last August and mistakenly believed the neighbour knew something about his missing bike.
He followed up a series of texts by going to the entrance to the flats where she lived and threatening to smash her windows with a hammer.
He threw the hammer away towards his own home, damaging his car and a window before leaving.
Piers Norsworthy, defending, said Tucker had the hammer because of his work as a roofer and kitchen fitter. He said he has moved to another part of Barnstaple and there has been no further trouble.