Exeter Chiefs boss Tony Rowe was threatened by a man wielding a samurai sword in a madcap episode on New Year’s Eve, Exeter Crown court has heard. The Exmouth Journal report that the incident occurred when Brad McGauley of Sages Lane, Woodbury Salterton tried to gain access to Rowe’s East Devon home whilst wearing a ‘V for Vendetta mask’ and waving a sword.

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The Chief Executive and chairman of Exeter Rugby Club, Rowe (71), confronted the defendant and was threatened with the blade. The court heardhheard the defendant had been up all night at a drink and drug-fuelled party and had no recollection of his actions. He also started a number of fires and broke into two cars in the Woodbury Salterton area on the night in question, all while masked and wielding the sword.

Police raided his home and found masks, two samurai swords and two machetes. McGauley pleaded guilty to burglary, two counts of arson, possession of a weapon, and two of vehicle interference. Judge Timothy Rose presiding sparred him a prison sentence, choosing to suspend his two-year sentence for two years and ordering him to serve 200 hours community service. He was also ordered to pay £500 compensation.

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The man’s mental state at the time of the incident was given as a mitigating factor. McGauley had no previous convictions and had sought out help regarding his drug and mental health issues since the incident in early 2019.

Judge Rose said: “These amounted to a spree of offending in the period of about three hours early on New Year’s Day when you acted completely outside any understanding of your normal character.”

Tony Rowe was awarded the OBE for services to business, sport and charity in the 2012 Queen’s Birthday Honours List and has since received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from University of Exeter, as well as being given the Freedom of the City of Exeter.

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