AN angry “ex” made phone threats to a police officer, believing he was speaking to a “friend” of his former partner, a court heard.

Mark Anthony Rutherford had become frustrated at being unable to speak to his former partner of nine years and made numerous attempts to ring her or send her messages, in breach of a restraining order forbidding him from trying to contact her.

Durham Crown Court was told many of those calls and messages were sent to her friend’s phone, insisting that he, “put her on”, threatening that he would, “slap the f*** out of you and drag her out by her hair, then cut her face.”

Jane Waugh, prosecuting, said Rutherford added: “Your hospital bed is almost ready.”

Eventually the fearful former partner rang Rutherford who was angry, claiming he knew she was not at home, but at her friend’s house, so she contacted the police.

A constable was at the friend’s home when Rutherford phoned from a withheld number, saying: “You best get her to come home, now, and I’ll kill both of you.”

He was told he was speaking to a police officer, who asked where he was, to which Rutherford replied: “I’m in a house far, far away and you’ll never find me.”

Miss Waugh said in previous days, in early October, Rutherford was seen several times outside his former partner’s home, in Murton, looking through the fence slats.

When arrested, after making the inadvertent phone threats in the hearing of the officer, Rutherford asked to call his father while in the custody suite at a police station.

The defendant was overheard asking his father to contact his (Rutherford’s) phone provider to request that they block his SIM card.

When interviewed, he gave no answers to police questioning.

But at a plea hearing, via video link to the court from Durham Prison, last Friday, 32-year-old Rutherford, of Beech Avenue, Murton, admitted malicious communication, attempting to pervert the course of justice and two counts of breaching the restraining order.

Neil Bennett, mitigating, told the sentencing hearing that many of Rutherford’s repeat missed calls were made through the night, when his former partner’s friend may have been sleeping.

Mr Bennett said the attempt to pervert the course of justice, while in the custody suite, was “unsophisticated” and unlikely to work, given the presence of police who could overhear what he was saying.

He added that Rutherford is aware he must deal with his anger management issues and he aims to make the best of his time in custody.

Jailing him for a total of 25 months, Judge Christopher Prince told Rutherford he had to learn to live with the relationship was over and his former partner did not want anything to do with him.

He put in place a new restraining order, forbidding contact or going to the street where his former partner lives, “without limit of time”, which he told Rutherford, effectively means “forever”.