Hartlepool scrap scavenger avoids jail after threatening to stab and kill couple
A couple feared for their safety when a man caught trying to take scrap metal from their garden threatened to stab and kill them while brandishing weapons.
Lee McLoughlin, 44, shouted a series of frightening threats during an argument with the man and woman outside their home and took out a hammer and knife from his van.
The incident was witnessed by the couple’s four young children.
Teesside Crown Court heard that the man of the house challenged McLoughlin after catching him in his garden picking up scrap metal awaiting collection.
After initially apologising, prosecutor Joseph Hedworth said McLoughlin’s attitude changed when he was told he could not take all of it.
Mr Hedworth said: “An argument took place and the defendant walked away.
"As he reached the end of the drive the defendant shouted ‘I’ll knock you out and smash your car’."
When the man swore at McLoughlin to go away, he said he lived nearby and would return to “stab you up”.
Mr Hedworth added: “He opened the driver’s door of his vehicle and picked up a metal hammer or mallet from the door pocket.
"He walked back over to [the couple] and said ‘I’ll smash your head in’.”
McLoughlin returned to his flat bed van and put down the hammer but picked up a knife.
"He walked back towards the couple shouting ‘I’ll kill you’,” said Mr Hedworth.
He left when the woman said she would call police. In impact statement read in court she said: “I was in absolute fear of our lives.”
The male victim added he was left fearing for his family’s safety for some time.
McLoughlin, of Fraser Court, Hartlepool, admitted possessing an offensive weapon and bladed article, and threatening or abusive behaviour.
His barrister Kate Barnes argued any prison sentence could be suspended and he was fit to do unpaid work.
She added there had been no further problems since the incident in June 2019.
Judge James Brown told McLoughlin his actions were “totally inappropriate” adding: “I’m not surprised these people were very distressed and quite frightened by your behaviour.”
He was given six months prison suspended for 18 months, 200 hours unpaid work and 40 rehabilitation activity days.
McLoughlin was also given a five-year restraining order to stay away from the victims, and the weapons forfeited.