A drunk pastor from Northern Ireland crashed his car and threatened to have paramedics and police officers who came to his aid murdered by the IRA.
Lee Stephens was working as an Elim pastor in England when he ploughed into a lamppost and an oncoming vehicle while three times over the limit.
He escaped with a 16-week suspended prison sentence after appearing in court, but has since been sacked from his job.
Stephens, from Richhill in Co Armagh, punched and spat at emergency services, accusing one of having sex with his sister, who had died just weeks earlier.
The drunken rampage was sparked when Stephens, a pastor at Elim Pentecostal Church in Ingatestone, Essex, was thrown out of a pub on April 19 this year having downed a cocktail of shots and beer.
The 31-year-old, of Moss Park in Richhill, drove down the wrong side of a road, reversed into a lamppost before smashing head-on into a Ford C-Max car, leaving its occupants — a father and his two children aged five and six — in hospital.
Basildon Magistrates Court heard that Stephens was arrested by an off-duty police officer, with a breath test showing he had 108mg of alcohol in his breath per 100ml — the legal limit is 35mg.
Ambulance crews arrived to treat Stephens and the other car’s occupants but were subjected to a torrent of abuse and violence from the drunken pastor.
He swore at paramedics and punched a police sergeant twice in the leg. Stephens spat at another officer and punched a second paramedic in the kidneys.
The chaos continued at Basildon Hospital where Stephens told police he had contacts in the IRA who would “blow them up”.
The court heard Stephens said: “I am a pastor, let me go or you will lose your jobs. I will kill everyone. I know the IRA.”
He also said: “I was in the IRA and I will f****** shoot you and blow you up.”
He also told a female officer: “I’ll f****** have you.”
Stephens admitted assault, assaulting a police officer, common assault, failing to provide a specimen of blood and using threatening words and behaviour.
The court heard Stephens was on anti-depressants following stress at work and did not usually drink.
He told the court he did not remember any of the incident and was deeply ashamed.
A judge told him: “Your behaviour fell well short of a man in your standing.”
He was ordered to pay his victims a total of £250 compensation.
Stephens’ 16-week prison sentence was suspended for 12 months.
He was also disqualified from driving for 30 months and ordered to do 200 hours’ unpaid work.
A church elder in England said: “Lee was a good person and this was totally out of character.
“We still do not know why it happened.
“I do not believe it was anything he intended to do.”
Stephens lists his interests online as evangelism, church planting, leadership, reading and revivals.
His favourite books include Seven Pentecostal Pioneers and The Contemplative Pastor.
An official at the church where Stephens had been working confirmed he has returned to Northern Ireland, but declined to comment further.
The Belfast Telegraph tried to contact Stephens several times yesterday to seek an explanation for his drunken behaviour, but he was not available.
Lee Stephens, a married father-of-one, had worked at the Elim Pentecostal Church in Ingatestone since May 2012. He has since returned to Northern Ireland. Before his time in Essex, he led an Elim Church in Ireland, having spent three years training at Elim Bible College. An online profile lists his interests as evangelism, church planting, leadership, reading and revivals.