A COUPLE'S anniversary and birthday celebrations descended into violent threats after the man lost control when his wife refused to return home with him.

Lee Bown stormed out of Ye Olde Durhams Social Club but returned minuted later brandishing a kitchen knife and knocking on the window of the club to get his wife's attention.

Teesside Crown Court heard how a man tried to intervene and calm the situation down but Bown 'lunged' at him with the knife before another club goer managed to force him outside.

Bown then returned to the club, where he was also a committee member, this time armed with a hand axe and again confronted the first man and tried to attack him with the weapon.

Paul Newcombe, prosecuting, said the Bown had been celebrating his wedding anniversary and upcoming birthday when the trouble flared at around 6pm on November 10 last year.

"They both had had a good drink," he said. "He and his wife argue, the defendant wanted to leave and she wanted to stay and it was that argument that was the start for what happened next."

Bown, of Stockton Road, Hartlepool, pleaded guilty to possession of a knife and possession of an offensive weapon – the axe.

Andrew Turton, mitigating, said his client accepted responsibility for his actions and said Bown only asked 'whether he would be going straight to custody or not'.

Judge Paul Watson QC said: "If you go around threatening people with a knife you are going to find yourself off the committee and behind bars."

Bown was given a ten-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months and ordered to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work.

The judge added: "First of all you threatened him with a knife, that must have been frightening enough, and when things calmed down, or at least he thought they had, you came back with an axe and threatening him with that – lunging at him.

"Fortunately, you made no contact and there was no injury caused. It must have been a terrifying incident, not just for him, but as we heard from other witnesses as well, who were outside, while you were carrying on in this appalling manner.

"Really at your age, you really ought to know better."