A MAN who narrowly avoided prison for stabbing his estranged wife in the head has dodged jail again - for threatening to kill her just days after his reprieve.

Martin Clarkson turned up at court with a huge bag expecting to go to custody - and could be heard laughing with a friend as he left with another let-off.

Clarkson, 60, was given a suspended sentence in July for knifing his 34-year-old ex during a row over custody of their dogs after they split up.

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Four days later, Clarkson told her friend that when he saw her in a bar: "I'll shoot her, I'll shoot her fella and I'll shoot her mam. She's a stupid cow."

Teesside Crown Court was told that his former partner was "terrified" when her shocked friend relayed the menacing message the next day.

When Clarkson was arrested later that night, he smelled of alcohol and slurred his words, struggled with an officer and yelled: "F*** off, you dogs."

As he was being booked in at Middlesbrough police station, he lashed out, grabbed a detention officer, pulled off an epaulette and caused an injury to his lip.

Judge Anthony Briggs asked his barrister, David Lamb: "It's time he grew up, is it not? . . . it is a rather odd thing to say to someone of 60, but there you go."

Clarkson, of The Fleet, Dormanstown, near Redcar, admitted using threatening words or behaviour and common assault, and received another suspended sentence.

Judge Briggs told him: "Your behaviour was disgraceful. For obvious reasons, it would have been extremely distressing to the very unfortunate lady.

"That said, you have not been convicted of anything until really at a very late age. Hopefully, this is just a blip in your history . . . I trust that is so.

"If it is not, you will be back and serving really quite a lengthy sentence. If you are in breach of it again, the total that will be put into effect is one of 21 months."

Clarkson was given a six-month sentence, suspended for two years, which was added to the 15-month suspended term imposed last summer.

In July, the court heard how he attacked his former partner in the street as she walked their two terriers near her Redcar home in January of last year.

He also fractured the his victim's cheekbone before being disarmed by a passer-by, fleeing to another ex-wife's home, and asking: "Have the police been?"

Clarkson - who was originally charged with attempted murder - told the woman: "I've given her face a good kicking. She'll need plastic surgery."

The court heard that he ran towards his former wife with an open pocket knife in his hand, before "sawing" at the neck of her coat and repeatedly stabbing her head.

Clarkson, who was also given a five-year restraining order, admitted inflicting grievous bodily harm after the attempted murder charge was dropped.