Scott Apps told to ‘expect jail’ for York Minster attack

York Press: Scott Apps being restrained and searched by police outside York Minster following the incident during the General Synod service on July 7 Scott Apps being restrained and searched by police outside York Minster following the incident during the General Synod service on July 7

A MAN has been warned to expect a jail sentence after he was convicted by a jury of assaulting two people at a service in York Minster attended by the Archbishops of York and Canterbury.

Scott Apps was unanimously found guilty at Leeds Crown Court yesterday of common assault on a volunteer steward, Sean Atkinson, and of an assault causing actual bodily harm on the Archbishop of York’s chauffeur, David Smith.

The court heard during a three-day trial that a service for the General Synod on July 7 was starting with a procession including the archbishops when Apps punched his two victims.

Mr Atkinson said he saw Apps walking towards him in the central aisle after the procession had begun and gestured to him to move out of the way but instead Apps “walked straight up to me, clenched his fist and punched me on the side of the head without saying anything”.

He told the jury he reeled back with the force and was in shock. Apps had moved over and the procession was passing between them when he saw him punch Mr Smith as well.

Mr Smith told the jury he heard on his earphone that a steward had been assaulted and went to see if he could help.

Apps was pointed out as the person responsible and when he went to ask him to move to the right “I got punched to the face”.

The jury heard his nose was later found to be broken. At the time he grabbed Apps and struggled with him on the floor.

Another member of the congregation and Mr Atkinson went to his aid, and in the struggle that followed Mr Atkinson’s head hit a glass panel at the door, shattering it.

The service continued while Apps was restrained and arrested when police arrived on the scene.

Apps, 42, who said he was living in a tent on allotments in York by choice at the time, claimed to police to have been acting in self-defence because he felt threatened.

His account to the jury, which was rejected, was that he had reacted to the men coming at him.

He said was going towards a table near Mr Atkinson to collect a book for the service when the steward was waving and gesturing and “suddenly threw out his arm, it was a deliberate action to grab me”.

He said he instinctively reacted by putting his own arm out to block him but had a clenched fist and it hit him.

He intended to take part in the service and stood still while the procession went by separating him from Mr Atkinson and then saw another man rushing towards him.

Apps said: “I saw him come out of my peripheral vision, very quickly, directly at me and I swung a punch.” Asked why, he said: “He was going to break my personal space with his velocity.”

He denied under cross-examination by Michael Jowett, prosecuting, that he reacted without any provocation and struck the men because they had annoyed or irritated him.

Asked why he had continued walking towards Mr Atkinson, who was gesturing for him to get out of the way of the procession, he said: “I dismissed it because I know he is an idiot.”

Apps was remanded in custody for a pre-sentence report to be repaired and a medical update on Mr Smith, who is still having medical treatment for loss of vision, tinnitus and ongoing effects of his broken nose.

Recorder Andrew Dallas told him: “You have been convicted on very clear evidence of these two offences. The second one you will appreciate because of the consequences is a serious matter. You must expect a custodial sentence.”

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