A businessman embroiled in an ice cream turf war threatened a rival with a baseball bat when a long-standing row turned violent.
Barry Champion, 39, of Westmorland Avenue, Blackpool, chased fellow ice cream man Joshua Bowman before cornering him and threatening him on a Blackpool street - in his wife’s pink ice-cream van.
Preston Crown Court heard how on March 17 this year, Champion’s wife encountered Mr Bowman selling ice-creams from his van in Blackpool.
An argument broke out between the two of them and Mrs Champion told Mr Bowman: “We’ve got two vans now and you don’t like it.
“You’ll be seeing Barry soon.”
Mr Bowman told Mrs Champion to “shut up” but when the ice cream woman returned home and told her husband, Champion jumped into his wife’s ice cream van and went to find Mr Bowman.
It’s a good job we’re in the street
He eventually spotted Mr Bowman’s van and followed him into Cambridge Street, where he pulled in front of his rival’s van and stopped.
Brandishing a baseball bat which he later told police was kept in his wife’s van for “protection”, Champion approached Mr Bowman’s driver’s window, shouting and swearing, the court heard.
Mr Bowman locked himself into the rear of his van but could hear Champion shouting: “It’s a good job we’re in this street.”
The angry ice cream vendor then returned to his van and left the scene.
Mr Bowman said: “If I’m totally honest, I feel scared, anxious and intimidated by Champion.”
He told police he now feels too frightened to continue with his ice cream business and has handed his round over to his mother.
He added he and the other ice cream sellers in the resort get on with each other but he feels scared because of Champion’s “unpredictable” temperament.
Champion, who has been in the ice cream trade since the age of 14, inherited the round from his father.
The court heard he had been going through a difficult time in his family life and had “over-reacted” on March 17.
Julie Taylor, defending, said: “Almost immediately he regretted his actions and turned back to return to his vehicle.”
Champion pleaded guilty to possession of an offensive weapon and a public order offence.
Judge Graham Knowles, sentencing, handed Champion a 12-month community order with 120 hours of unpaid work.
He also made a restraining order banning him from contacting Joshua Bowman.
The order also prohibits him from “entering or being in the borough of Blackpool in an ice cream van” unless he is taking a direct route in or out from his home address, meaning he can travel to and from his usual round in Kirkham.
Judge Knowles said: “You are a decent and popular man among people you like and not a decent or popular man among people you dislike.”
Blackpool Council said Champion no longer works in the resort, although he has previously been inspected by food control officers, as is standard for ice cream vendors in the resort.
The attack is the latest in a feud dubbed ‘The Cold War’ between rival ice cream sellers.
Earlier this year, David Stephenson was fined for threatening behaviour and criminal damage when he discovered a Whitby ice-cream seller was passing off cheap Aldi alternatives as Stephenson’s luxury ‘Trillo’ brand.
In 2013 Zeheer Ramzan assaulted rival ‘Mr Whippy’ Mohammed Mulla, smashing the window of his van in Blackburn.
According to the National Caterers’ Association, ice cream vans carry one of the highest profit margins in catering.
But its website warns: “Mobile trading can be very competitive and competition for the best rounds is very strong. It may be difficult to break in where there are several vendors already operating, and it has been known to create threatening behaviour.”