Jilted film assistant runs amok in artists' commune with two-foot long machete

Arif Macaco handed suspended sentence after admitting drink-and-drug-fuelled rampage

Emily Pennink
Friday 24 August 2018 15:18
Fountayne Road in Tottenham Hale, north London, where Macaco's rampage took place
Fountayne Road in Tottenham Hale, north London, where Macaco's rampage took place

A film assistant who ran amok with a 2ft machete at an artists’ commune after breaking up with his girlfriend and getting drunk has avoided an immediate prison sentence.

Artist Arif Macaco, 25, admitted he had gone berserk at the converted warehouse within hours of splitting up with his partner Freya Harwood Bond.

Ms Harwood Bond suffered a cut to her chin as she tried to restrain her drink and drug-fuelled ex-boyfriend, and described the rampage as like a scene from a “horror film”.

Residents of the commune fled as Macaco trashed furniture, brandished the sword and threatened to burn, cut and kill them in what a judge called a “completely disgraceful” fit of anger.

Macaco, originally from Ealing, west London, had been given the machete as a gift for his work on the award-winning film Beasts of No Nation.

Police were called to Fountayne Road, Tottenham Hale, north London, in the early hours of 4 July, where Macaco was arrested.

The defendant, who practices Brazilian dance martial art capoeira, appeared via video link from Pentonville Prison to be sentenced at the Old Bailey, sporting a moustache and hair tied into a topknot.

Prosecutor Sam Barker told how Macaco had got drunk and taken drugs during a shift in a bar after breaking up with Ms Harwood Bond.

Ms Harwood Bond was in the shower when she heard the ruckus as Macaco returned home just after midnight.

She heard him screaming “I will burn the whole place down”, the court heard.

Ms Harwood Bond described the commotion, saying: “I could see him marching towards me. He was holding the machete in his hand. I began screaming at him. He paid no attention and carried on like I was invisible.”

Another resident recalled him shouting: “I’m going to cut you. I’m going to burn you. I’m going to kill you.”

Mr Barker said: “The defendant went on a rampage around breaking furniture and throwing things about. He armed himself with a machete described as being about two feet long with a bill hook on the end of it.

“Miss Harwood Bond attempted to stop him as he progressed around the warehouse. Other people tried to calm him down.

“Miss Harwood Bond tried to physically restrain the defendant. Accidentally the machete struck her in the chin causing a small laceration. She recalled the incident made her feel like she was in a horror film. She was scared.”

Meanwhile, neighbour Jonathan Sendall ushered residents away and barricaded them behind a door.

The defendant hacked at it with the machete, shouting at the terrified people behind the door: “I’m going to kill all you c***s”, Mr Sendall said.

Macaco made his escape but police found him nearby with an injury to his hand and arrested him.

In mitigation, Joy Lewis said Macaco was “deeply ashamed” at the domestic violence, having experienced it himself when he was young.

The defendant had not been in trouble before and had worked on some “very high-profile films” which had exposed him to drink and drugs.

She said the machete had “sentimental value” as Macaco was given it as a gift for his work on the production of Beasts of No Nation.

Recorder James Wood QC handed Macaco 14 months in jail, suspended for two years, for affray and possession of an offensive weapon. He also ordered the machete’s destruction and said Macaco must carry out 200 hours of community service.

He told the defendant: “This was a completely disgraceful incident. This was a shocking incident with you intoxicated brandishing a machete in public and seemingly out of control.

“You are obviously an intelligent and self-aware man, and what happened at the age of 25 was out of character.

“You are a young man who has obviously worked hard in the film industry and are of good character.”

He told Macaco that he was “very lucky” to have friends prepared to help him make a fresh start in Suffolk, away from the “temptations” in the capital.

He added: “You are very lucky but do not expect to have luck twice. This is your chance in life, take it, otherwise you will end up in prison.”

Macaco replied: “Thank you. I will not be coming back.”

Additional reporting by PA