A MAN attempted to take the law into his own hands by seeking retribution at the home of someone he believed had been harassing a relative.

Having drunk ten pints of cider, Michael James Britton armed himself with a kitchen knife and went to the home of the man he thought was responsible for the harassment, including low levels of criminal damage to parked vehicles.

Durham Crown Court heard he got to the house, in Sunnybrow, near Willington, and paced up and down outside, before entering to confront the other man, at about 2.30am on May 18.

Paul Reid, prosecuting, said Britton approached him and said: “You b*****d!”, before lunging at the male householder.

But, in his state of inebriation, no contact was made and his intended target tried to detain him, while urging his partner’s daughter, who had come downstairs with her phone to see what was causing the commotion, to ring for police.

When officers arrived at the house, Britton, who was being restrained on the floor, was handcuffed and arrested.

He told the police they were, “soft c***s” and said he had wanted to kill the other man.

But, at a plea hearing, at the court in June, he denied charges of aggravated burglary and causing an affray, although he admitted possessing a knife in public.

When his trial began, on Wednesday, 51-year-old Britton, of Norwich Gardens, Willington, also admitted the affray charge.

He told the hearing that while he did not like, “the other bloke”, he had not intended to cause him serious harm, with his threats to kill him, being, “just a saying”.

Following only half-an-hour’s deliberation, the jury returned a unanimous not guilty verdict on the aggravated burglary charge.

But, he then fell to be sentenced for the affray and knife carrying charges.

Robert Mochrie, mitigating, said since the offences were committed the defendant has continued to work in support of his family.

Mr Mochrie said the relative who was subject of the “campaign of harassment” was in support of Britton in court.

“The defendant has learned a salutary lesson, not to get drunk and act like he did, and instead, in future, go to police.

“He does expect a custodial sentence, but, clearly, shorter than if there had been a guilty verdict.”

Imposing an 18-month prison sentence, Recorder Ian Atherton said a “quite frightening” aspect to the case was the taking of the knife to a house where a child was present.