Man snapped over ‘Wagon Wheel’

Country music star, Nathan Carter.
Country music star, Nathan Carter.

A man claimed he was being subjected to “some sort of psychological torture” after a neighbour in the flat above his home repeatedly played Nathan Carter’s version of ‘Wagon Wheel’, a court heard.

Stephen John Leighton (53), of The Elms in Coleraine, appeared at the town’s Magistrates Court last Monday and admitted that he had snapped.

He pleaded guilty to two charges arising out of the incident when, with drink consumed, he stormed up a communal stairwell and yelled: “If I hear Wagon Wheel one more time I’m going to break that stereo”.

He did in fact break two windows.

The court was told that on the night of Sunday, January 10 this year a householder called police after Leighton, who lived alone in a flat below him, banged on his door shouting “Open the f--king door now” before breaking two panes of glass.When police arrived Leighton, who had a previous criminal record, was back in his flat and told police to “f--k off” and as he was being arrested limb restraints had to be attached and he shouted all the way to the police station and punched an officer on the face.

Defence barrister Francis Rafferty said there were “unusual circumstances”.

He said: “On the night in question and for some time beforehand he had been tortured.

“He believed it was some sort of psychological torture”.

The lawyer said there had been a highly repetitive playing of the Nathan Carter country and western version of the song ‘Wagon Wheel’.

Mr Rafferty said when his client went to the flat above he was not making a threat to the occupant but instead said: “If I hear Wagon Wheel one more time I’m going to break that stereo” and Mr Rafferty said it was “more a threat to the originator of the song”.

Mr Rafferty claimed that the intervention only led to the song “being played more loudly and more repetitively”.

He said Leighton had not intended to intentionally break the glass but that the damage was caused when he slammed the door.

The barrister said as a result of bail conditions after the incident Leighton lived elsewhere and when he returned to the flat two months later it seemed Nathan Carter was no longer on the play list.

At one point during the court proceedings a ring tone on a mobile rang out prompting laughter when the judge asked if it was ‘Wagon Wheel’.

Leighton pleaded guilty to charges of criminal damage and assault on police.

District Judge Liam McNally told Leighton: “Irrespective of the view you took about this particular tune that did not entitle you to take the law into your own hands” as he imposed a four months prison term, suspended for two years, and ordered him to pay £200 compensation for the damage to the windows.