A MASKED machete-carrying teenager high on drink and drugs put a feisty female householder through a terrifying ordeal in her own home, a court heard.
James Latcham and an accomplice, also wearing a balaclava and carrying what appeared to be a BB pistol, barged into the woman's home in Shildon, County Durham, after she answered a knock at the back door, at 3pm on February 20.
Durham Crown Court heard that Latcham put the machete to the woman's throat and said: “Give me your money and everything you've got.”
Loading article content
Paul Reid, prosecuting, told the court: “With considerable fortitude she grabbed the machete by the blade, cutting her hand.
“He pushed her into the kitchen work top and repeated his demand, putting his left hand to her throat.
“Yet, she was able to kick against a cupboard to try attract the attention of her partner, who was elsewhere in the house.
“The other youth, who had the pistol, said: 'Ha, ha. You think you're clever. I'm going to shoot you'.”
She told him: “If you're going to shoot us, then shoot us.”
Mr Reid said: “The pistol was pointed in her direction and there was a 'click' but it only released air, so it appeared to be unloaded.
“The woman's partner then came in, carrying a baseball bat, and said: 'Get off her', at which they ran off.
“But the smaller of the pair shouted: 'We'll be back'.”
Although the woman's partner chased them, they escaped, and also out-ran a police officer who spotted someone answering Latcham's description in the area.
Mr Reid said a police helicopter was summoned to help the search, but it was a friend of the couple, alerted by a phone-call over what had taken place, who saw Latcham with scratches to his face, from fleeing through bushes.
Latcham told the woman: “Did you hear the chopper?
“They're after us because I've done a house round the corner and stashed them (the weapons) in a green bin.”
Mr Reid said Latcham was arrested eight days later and his shoes were seized, enabling a match to be made with a footprint 'lift' taken outside the targeted house.
His accomplice has not been apprehended.
John Turner, mitigating, told the court: “The offences were committed while he was under the influence of drink and drugs.
“He believed there were drugs present on the premises, which is why he went there, to feed his craving.”
Mr Turner added that while in custody Latcham has begun overcoming his drugs addiction, and still has the support of his family.
The 19-year-old, of Chestnut Avenue, Spennymoor, admitted aggravated burglary, attempted robbery and possessing a bladed article in public.
Imposing an eight-year custodial sentence, to start in a young offenders' institution, Judge Christopher Prince praised the victim's, “admirable fortitude”, but agreed with the probation report that Latcham poses a potential danger to the public at large.