Whitby man given 19 months in jail after 'revenge' attack that saw him crash his van into coffee shop

Stuart SwalesRenault Kangoo crashed through the window of the Java Caf in Whitby and ended up half in and half out of the trendy caf in Flowergate, causing 38,000 of damage.
Stuart SwalesRenault Kangoo crashed through the window of the Java Caf in Whitby and ended up half in and half out of the trendy caf in Flowergate, causing 38,000 of damage.

A man high on cocaine and booze deliberately crashed his van into a coffee shop in a “revenge” attack on the owner.

Stuart Swales’s Renault Kangoo crashed through the window of the Java Café in Whitby and ended up “half in and half out” of the trendy café in Flowergate, causing £38,000 of damage.

He then got out of the works van - leaving the keys in the ignition - and walked over to the nearby Angel Fisheries restaurant, a popular tourist attraction in Baxtergate also owned by the victim, and smashed its windows with a broken broom handle, causing £1,000 of damage.

Bizarrely, the 33-year-old scaffolder remained at the scene until police arrived. He told an officer: “I ain’t gonna lie to you mate; I smashed my van into Java (café) and smashed his windows.”

York Crown Court heard that Swales had a grudge against the male owner of the café and fish-and-chip restaurant, who was named in court.

Prosecutor Heather Gilmore said that Swales failed a roadside breath test. A subsequent test showed he was over twice the legal drink-drive limit.

Swales, of Abbots Road, Whitby, admitted he had been drinking vodka and taking cocaine before the incident in the early hours of September 1.

He was arrested and charged with dangerous driving, criminal damage and drink-driving. He ultimately admitted both offences and appeared for sentence on Monday when he received a 19-month jail sentence.

Ms Gilmore told the court: “Both the Java Café and Angel Fisheries were closed up… when the defendant drove his Renault Kangoo van into the window of the café, then exited the vehicle, leaving it where it had crashed half in and half out of the window.

“The defendant got out of the van and walked round to Angel Fisheries nearby. He picked up a broken broom handle and smashed a number of windows, causing about £1,000 of damage.”

Both buildings had to be boarded up and repaired after Swales’s van had been dislodged from the café.

An officer arrived at the scene at about 6.20am and found Swales, who was clutching a bottle of water and appeared to be intoxicated.

Swales told the officer he had been drinking and taking cocaine “to give him courage” to crash his car into the café.

In a statement read out in court, the victim said he had lost “hundreds of thousands of takings” and employees had lost over £8,000 in wages due to Swales’s mindless act, which resulted in an eight-week repair job.

Staff had to be relocated to other premises during the repair and some had lost their jobs, the court heard.

Swales had previous convictions dating back 13 years, for offences including battery, damaging property, being drunk and disorderly, assaulting a police officer and public disorder.

Graham Parkin, for Swales, said that at the time of the incidents his client’s “thought processes were clouded by substances and drink”.

“There had been no attempts to disguise the fact that he had been the driver,” added Mr Parkin. “He simply stood there waiting for the police to come.”

Judge Andrew Stubbs QC said that Swales was “plainly harbouring resentment and animosity” towards the café owner, adding: “This was the deliberate infliction of as much damage as you could (manage), acting in revenge, leaving (the victim) and his family scared”.

Swales will serve half of his 19-month jail sentence behind bars before becoming eligible for parole. He was also banned from driving for 33 months.