A DRUG user held his mother’s dog as ransom in a bid to persuade her to give him money to buy cocaine, a court was told.

Troy McKinlay – who nearly died after suffering horrific burns in a house fire in 2016 – sent a threatening message to his mother saying he would kill her dog if she did not give him £20.

Durham Crown Court heard that he went to her home that evening, on October 6, and hid the dog in an upstairs wardrobe.

Anthony Pettengell, prosecuting, said when she returned to the property, in George Street, Shildon, with a friend at 10.40pm, McKinlay grabbed the other woman by the back of her jumper,and told her to get out .

McKinlay told his mother she needed to give him some money to get the dog back and threatened to kill her friend, who, by then, managed to get to the living room.

Mr Pettengell said the defendant picked up a metal curtain pole, tapping it on the floor, again threatening to kill his mother’s dog unless she paid him money.

His mother went upstairs looking for the dog but was unable to find it and her son threatened to “smash the house up”.

Eventually the other woman found the dog in the wardrobe and when McKinlay’s mother went to check it was okay, he raised the pole above his head as if he was going to strike her, telling her to give him the money and he would leave.

McKinlay then smashed a bedroom window and television set with the pole and when police arrived and arrested him, he was obstructive and spat in an officer’s face as he was being put in the force vehicle.

He told the officer he would, “have the last laugh”, claiming he had hepatitis.

Later, at the police station, he tried to spit at the interviewing officer, who managed to use documents she was holding as a shield from the spittle.

Both officers later described their disgust at the defendant’s actions and said they would prefer to be physically attacked than being spat at, with the knock-on fear of catching hepatitis.

McKinlay, 21, of no fixed address, admitted common assault, assault by beating, two counts of assaulting an emergency worker, criminal damage and sending a threatening communication.

The court heard he has 22 convictions for 36 offences.

But Martin Towers, mitigating, said there was a three-year gap in his offending until earlier this year as he recovered from serious burn injuries.

He began taking cocaine to help get over the scars of the fire, which brought him into conflict with his mother, as he fell into debt over his use of the drug.

Judge Jonathan Carroll told McKinlay his actions that day were, “particularly vulgar and disgusting” and he doubted his claims of remorse.

He imposed a 28-week prison sentence and put in place a five-year restraining order prohibiting McKinley from going to his mother’s home address.