A STRESSED Barrow chef armed himself with a spade after acting aggressively in front of colleagues and guests.

Under-pressure Christopher Adams, 34, had been working solidly for 18 days without a break when trouble flared at the Scafell Hotel in Rosthwaite, Borrowdale, on the evening of September 15.

Sous-chef Adams, of Cook Street, Barrow, was initially verbally abusive and aggressive towards receptionist Graeme Thyer in the kitchen.

Mr Thyer then watched on CCTV as Adams gestured towards a colleague working in the Riverside bar, where he was refused service.

Gerard Rogerson, prosecuting, told Carlisle Crown Court: “Mr Thyer was informed soon after by the member of staff he had to close the entrance to the Riverside bar, guests using the staff and side entrances because of the behaviour.”

Aggressive, gesticulating and swearing, Adams had to be restrained and claimed he was assaulted. He went home but then returned having armed himself with a spade in order, he said, to prevent a further attack.

One guest, farmer Joseph Weir, was at the hotel having earlier attended a sheep show, and was asked to assist with trouble outside.

“When he went outside he saw Mr Adams holding the spade above his head,” said Mr Rogerson. “He was very aggressive, shouting and swearing. He had a tight grip on the spade.”

Bracing himself, with the spade across his chest, Adams gave up the implement at the farmer’s request.

Adams was arrested and later admitted affray. But he denied using the spade as a weapon or using it to attack anyone.

He had stated: “I was under severe stress due to pressures of work and had taken drink.”

Richard Bennett, defending, said Adams had since found new employment in Barrow, was in regular contact with his children and not currently drinking. “He accepts he was threatening and people would fear for their safety,” Mr Bennett said of the incident.

A six-month prison sentence was suspended for two years, and Adams must complete a rehabilitation requirement and pay costs.

“This is very bizarre behaviour for a man in his 30s with some considerable responsibility both domestically and at work,” said Recorder Ciaran Rankin as he passed sentence. “It appears you just let everything get the better of you.”