AN axeman couldn’t explain to police or his barrister why he had walked into a Trowbridge pub with a hatchet by his side.

Paul Gumm had finished a bottle of Jack Daniel’s whiskey before strolling into The Greyhound pub with the weapon in his hand and a snood around his neck on November 22 last year.

The reaction in the pub was minimal. Two women at the bar got up to leave but the rest of the patrons stayed in their seats.

Gumm, 40, neither brandished the hatchet nor used it to threaten anyone in the pub. CCTV described to Swindon Crown Court showed him merely standing by the door and looking around him.

Prosecutor Tom Wilkins said: “He’s only in there for a matter of seconds before he leaves. There is in fact no distress caused or threat of violence.”

Police were called and when they arrived spotted Gumm slinging the axe into his car. They searched the man and his vehicle, taking a knuckleduster from his pocket and nasty-looking pair of knives from the car. Also in the vehicle was an empty bottle of Jack Daniels.

He had previous offences on his record for weapons and violence, dating back to the late 1990s.

Gumm, of Lyneham Way, Trowbridge, pleaded guilty to three counts of possession of a bladed article in a public place and one count of possession of an offensive weapon.

Tony Bignall, defending, said he had asked his client on a number of occasions what he had been doing at the pub – without success. “He just doesn’t know.”

Gumm’s ex-partner, who had written the man a supportive reference, suggested it may have been a cry for help. Last year he was facing trial – since discontinued – over an alleged robbery, which had affected his mental health.

The barrister couldn’t explain the behaviour: “Why this very gentle man who wouldn’t hurt a fly is, I don’t like to say tooled up, but one of those knives is a rather nasty piece of kit.”

Judge Jason Taylor QC sentenced Gumm to 14 months imprisonment suspended for 18 months with a requirement to complete 200 hours of unpaid work, 20 rehabilitation days and pay £400 costs. He said: “You need to stay out of trouble, Mr Gumm.”