Axewoman smashed car up outside Sunday church meeting

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A young mother waved an axe around and smashed up a car outside a Pentecostal church after a row at a Christian convention.

Veronica Stewart (23) turned up as a Sunday service was ending at The People’s Church in Falkirk.

She shouted “Get out, you’re dead – I’m killing yous” at two female worshippers.

Elders gave the frightened women sanctuary in the minister’s office, while Stewart left, only to return with the axe, which she appeared to have collected from a small white van.

At Falkirk Sheriff Court today, procurator fiscal depute Susan Campbell said: “Stewart got out of the van in possession of a small axe, which she was waving above her head.

“She was shouting, but it was not clear what was being said.”

She was then seen to begin to damage a blue car parked nearby, which belonged to the husband of the older of the two church members who had been given sanctuary in the church office.

Miss Campbell said: “She was striking it with an object.”

Falkirk Sheriff Court heard the vestibule of the church was full as this was going on, with the congregation of almost 100 preparing to leave.

More than £3000 worth of damage was caused to the car, a 2011 Vauxhall Insignia Sri Cdti – including a large dent on the nearside of the bonnet and a “large impact mark” on the nearside of the windscreen.

Miss Campbell added: “In addition, the front passenger window was totally smashed and there were scrapes along the nearside front door.”

Stewart, of Laurieston, Falkirk, was traced, arrested, and charged.

She appeared for today after pleading guilty last month to using threatening and abusive behaviour on June 26, 2016.

The People’s Church, in West Bridge Street, Falkirk, where the drama took place, is directly opposite the town’s police station.

Stewart’s solicitor, Willie McIntyre, said his client had intended to talk to people present about something that had allegedly happened to her sick father at a Christian convention not long before.

The court heard there had been a claim that he had been assaulted, though all proceedings in relation to the allegation have been dropped.

He said the axe involved was kept in the van simply for cutting firewood, while his client was due to get married next month, and planned to leave the area.

He said: “This whole sorry incident took place against a very emotional background. It was an unwise attempt by her to mediate with others at then church, which went horribly wrong.

“She can’t believe she allowed the red mist to come down.”

Sheriff Derek Livingston placed Stewart on a community payback order with the condition she complete 200 hours of unpaid work.

He said: “I accept that at the time you were emotional about what had happened to your father, but your behaviour was reprehensible and could have led to all sorts of problems.

“You did quite a lot of damage to somebody’s vehicle, and of course you were waving an axe around. While this would normally be dealt with by custody, it seems to me that because of your own circumstances I can deal with it by way of an alternative.”

Stewart’s younger sister Chantelle (20) who was also present, admitted a more minor role – shouting and being abusive.

Sentence on her was deferred for her to keep out of further trouble.

Chantelle’s solicitor, Simon Hutchison, said: “She comes from a very religious family, and they don’t take lightly to this kind of behaviour outside a church.

“There were dozens, if not a hundred, people there, including the Pastor, a deacon, and an off duty police officer.”