A KNIFEMAN avoided a prison sentence when a judge described his case as "wholly exceptional".

Michael Moore was hearing voices in his head and was paranoid about people looking to harm him when he armed himself.

The incident happened at his then-home in Norton, near Stockton, late at night on May 29.

His partner contacted police to say he was having mental health difficulties, prosecutor Penny Bottomley told Teesside Crown Court.

Moore, 25, was holding a kitchen knife with a 9ins blade and was mumbling when officers arrived.

Miss Bottomley said he made no threats to either his girlfriend or the police, and held the knife downwards, but was Tasered when he refused to put it down.

In interview, he explained he was having paranoid thoughts when he either had too much or too little to drink.

He thought someone was going to come to the property in Waterford Road and armed himself to protect him and his partner.

Duncan McReddie, mitigating, said: "There is a pre-sentence report and a psychiatric report which contains useful analysis of his personal difficulties.

"Mr Moore suffers from what the psychiatrist thinks may be symptoms akin to a personality disorder. He doesn't have any conditions of psychosis such as schizophrenia.

"Mr Moore has previously many times reported suffering from hallucinations. The explanation of this incident is not a self-serving explanation.

"He genuinely believed the police officers who entered the premises were men coming to harm him and his girlfriend."

Moore, of Walton Terrace, Guisborough, admitted affray, and was given a 12-month community order with an alcohol treatment requirement and 30 days of rehabilitation activity.

The judge, Recorder Gurdial Singh, told him: "It is a serious offence, but the circumstances of it are fairly unique.

"You didn't brandish the knife towards the officers, and that, in my mind, is a circumstance I can't overlook."