Christopher Hollinworth, 37, flew into a rage at the amounts of rubbish being left behind by visitors at the ‘idyllic’ Pickmere Lake in Cheshire, near where he lived
Image: Warrington Guardian / SWNS)
An enraged litter picker threatened to slit the throat of a young girl and told women that ‘Wayne Couzens’ was coming for them after rubbish was left at a beauty spot, a court heard.
Christopher Hollinworth, 37, flew into a rage at the amounts of rubbish being left behind by visitors to ‘idylic’ Pickmere Lake in Cheshire, near where he lived.
He left his innocent victims terrified after dishing out the sinister threats, Warrington Magistrates Court was told.
Hollinworth targeted families and swimmers during a series of incidents between August and October last year, the court heard.
In one horrific exchange, he shouted at a woman who had been swimming in the lake: “Wayne Couzens is going to get you – you’re next.”
Couzens, a Metropolitan Police officer, was jailed for life for the kidnap and murdered 33-year-old Sarah Everard in London in March 2021.
A statement read out to the court on the victim’s behalf described how she had ‘never experienced fear like this before’ and no longer takes part in outdoor swimming, adding: “This man took away my freedom.”
He struck again two days later, targeting two women who were sat in a car with the boot open.
Hollinworth, a software engineer for Barclays, began peering into the rear of the vehicle and said the driver’s name – which was printed on a parcel in the trunk.
When challenged, he replied: “Wayne Couzens, I’ll see you later.”
The pair then followed him into nearby fields and took pictures of him with the intention of passing them onto the police.
Hollinworth revealed his name and said he was ‘sick of menopausal women taking their clothes off in front of his house and was feeling homicidal towards people at the lake’.
A victim personal statement from the motorist, which was read to magistrates, said that the threats concerning Couzens ‘ring in her ears all the time’.
She added: “I went from being a confident individual to someone who is scared to go out.
“I have turned my life upside down – it’s had a major impact on me.”
The court heard he had approached a couple and their seven-year-old daughter as they were getting back into their car after a trip to the lake.
The court heard he struck up a conversation with the dad but began ‘talking under his breath’, saying: “One of these days I’ll tell him, one of these days.”
Married father-of-two Hollinworth then disturbingly stated ‘I’ll get your kid and I’ll slit her throat’ while making a slicing gesture to his own neck.
The court heard he added: “Off you go home now, leaving me to pick up everyone’s rubbish.”
He then picked up a for sale sign and threw it at the family’s Citroen C4 as it was driving away, causing minor damage to the paintwork.
Magistrates were told that the man, a recently retired police officer, was left ‘genuinely distressed by his actions’.
When officers turned up at his home to arrest him, he asked ‘none of you are Wayne Couzens are you?’
Hollinworth, who has no previous convictions, suffers from a number of mental health conditions and has since been diagnosed with autism.
Rebecca Penfold, defending, told the court: “He didn’t understand why it was that he was behaving in this way.
“With this diagnosis, I can move forward.
“This is a man who is now changed.”
Hollinworth admitted criminal damage and three public order offenses.
He was fined £1,350 and told to pay compensation totaling £700, £320 in court costs and a £135 victim surcharge.
He was also handed a 12-month restraining order.
Sentencing, magistrates panel chairman Gillian Beckett said: “All three witnesses would have been scared to death in relation to these incidents.
“It was upsetting and terrifying to them.
“However we have taken into account your previous good character, your prompt guilty plea and your recent mental health diagnosis. We are also pleased to hear you have made personal attempts to seek support.
“We do hope we will not see you in court again.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.