Ex-fire chief brandished kitchen knife and threw cutlery at wife in row over cash

General view of Peterlee Magistrates Court Picture: DAVID WOOD

General view of Peterlee Magistrates Court Picture: DAVID WOOD

A former senior fire officer threw dirty cutlery at his wife in an argument over money.

Paul Reay, who retired as Assistant Chief Fire Officer of County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service in 2011, flew into a range after a night’s drinking.

Reay, who owns two companies and four properties, was annoyed with his wife Maureen after she withdrew £2,000 from their joint account, Peterlee Magistrates’ Court heard.

“The couple had been married more than 14 years,” said Paul Garside, prosecuting. “They were sleeping in separate rooms at the time of this incident last November.

“Maureen Reay describes how she was asleep when her husband returned at about 10pm in a drunken state at about 10pm.

“He entered her bedroom, turned the light on, grabbed her by the hair and neck, and started shouting about her withdrawing £2,000 from their account.

“He went away, returning a short time later with a tray on which there was washing up, which he threw in her direction.

“She says the tray landed at the foot of the bed.

“Moments later, he produced a kitchen knife from behind his back, then lunged at her with it.

“The knife was also thrown at her.”

In a victim impact statement read to the court, Mrs Reay said her husband had drank alcohol heavily throughout their time together.

“He is bullying and controlling,” she added. “He seems to think that because he had a senior position in the fire service, and had acquired some wealth from it, he has the right to treat people as he chooses.

“He has been generous to me and my family, but he never misses an opportunity to remind me of it.

“It is getting worse, I am now fearful for my well-being.

“The marriage is over, he doesn’t care about me, and shows a sickening lack of respect for me.

“He has promised many times to cut down on his drinking, but never does so, telling me I am the problem, not the drink.”

Reay, 56, of Drewsick Court, Murton, denied assault by beating on November 5, last year.

He was convicted after a trial earlier this week.

David Malone, defending, said: “There is little I can say about the incident, although he does still deny using a knife.

“This conviction has had a harrowing effect on Mr Reay, who was rightly proud of his good character, having never previously had so much as a parking ticket.

“He is now living in a flat apart from his wife, which the couple own.

“The divorce is going to be an acrimonious one, which will no doubt have an impact on Mr Reay’s finances.

“His problems were exacerbated this week when his mother was taken seriously ill and rushed into Sunderland Royal Hospital.

“I did ask Mr Reay if he wished me to ask for an adjournment of this case so he could be with her.

“He refused, saying he wants to draw a line under this matter as soon as possible.”

In extracts read from a probation report, the court heard Reay has a pension of £4,000 a month, savings, and other investments.

Reay was sentenced to a community order of 12 months, including 200 hours of community work, and he was ordered to pay £905 in fines, costs, and compensation.

The bench made Reay the subject of a restraining order for 12 months which bans him from contacting his wife, or visiting their former home in Weybourne Lea, Seaham.