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Woman brandished axe outside church after service

Veronica Stewart turned up with the weapon at a church in Falkirk last June.

Falkirk: Church where incident occurred sits opposite police station.
Falkirk: Church where incident occurred sits opposite police station. Google 2017

A woman brandished an axe outside a Pentecostal church because she claimed some members of the congregation previously attacked her cancer-stricken father.

Veronica Stewart, 23, and her sister Chantelle, 20, turned up at the People's Church in Falkirk at around 8pm on June 26, 2016, just as the Sunday evening service had ended.

After shouting at and threatening two women in the congregation, the sisters left and then returned in a white van, at which point Veronica Stewart emerged shouting and brandishing an axe.

She then caused £3200 worth of damage to a member of the congregation's car by smashing it with "an object", denting the bonnet and leaving a large mark on the windscreen.

Susan Campbell, prosecuting, told Falkirk Sheriff Court on Friday that both women initially entered the foyer just as the church - which is directly opposite Falkirk Police Station - was emptying out.

Both women were heard shouting: "Get out, you're dead, I'm killing yous."

Ms Campbell said the phrase was "repeated several times", and was directed at two female members of the congregation - one a married woman of 53.

Chantelle also shouted: "My dad's got cancer."

The court heard that the vestibule of the church was full as this was going on, with the congregation of almost 100 preparing to leave.

Ms Campbell said the two women who were threatened were "very upset" and directed to go into the church office.

The Stewarts then returned in the van.

'Veronica Stewart got out of the van in possession of a small axe, which she was waving above her head.'
Depute fiscal Susan Campbell

Ms Campbell said: "Veronica 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. Chantelle Stewart also got out of the van and was shouting. Both accused continued to shout outside the locus.

"Veronica Stewart was then observed by a witness 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.

Ms Campbell added: "She was striking it with an object."

The sisters, of Polmont Road, Laurieston, Falkirk, pleaded guilty to using threatening and abusive behaviour.

Defence agent Simon Hutchison, for Chantelle Stewart, said there was "a very emotional background" to the incident.

He said: "The People's Church is my client's own church. Her father had been seriously assaulted at a Christian convention while he was was undergoing treatment for cancer.

"The incident came to court but because of her father's health, it wasn't proceeded with. This incident was fresh in my client's mind.

"She comes from a very religious family, and they don't take lightly to this kind of behaviour outside a church."

He added: "Even more stupidly, it took place right across the road from the police station, when there were dozens, if not a hundred, people there, including the Pastor, a deacon, and an off-duty police officer."

Veronica Stewart's solicitor, Willie McIntyre, said his client had intended talk to people about what had happened to her father at the Christian convention.

He said: "She can't believe she allowed the red mist to come down."

Sheriff Derek Livingston deferred sentence on Veronica Stewart until April 27 for background reports.

He said: "I'll be looking to see if there's an alternative to custody.

"She had an axe and was behaving in this way at a church at a time when people had gone to pray."

He deferred sentence on Chantelle, a mother-of-one and first offender, for three months for her to be of good behaviour.

The sheriff said: "It's all her sister's fault - a bad influence."

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