A MAN who was abusive and threatening to a council neighbourhood warden was told his behaviour was, “completely out of order”.

The comment was made by a judge to defendant Michael Peter Simm as he was sentencing him for causing an affray, involving a street warden going about his job in Durham city centre earlier this year.

Durham Crown Court heard that as the warden was on patrol in the city he came across Simm sleeping rough in the street, at 9.50am on March 4.

Phillip Morley, prosecuting, said in the course of speaking to the defendant, Simm became abusive and swore at the warden a number of times.

He threatened to punch him, before moving on, and a short time later he attended a probation office for an appointment.

During the meeting Simm told a probation officer that he would kill the warden.

Mr Morley said that although, in her duties the officer hears similar things said, many are just “throw away comments” and empty threats.

But, due to the nature of what Simm told her, and his demeanour, she thought he may try to live up to his threat.

She, therefore, contacted the police who, in turn contacted the council’s neighbourhood warden service.

It led to a decision being made to remove the warden from patrol in Durham and he was transferred to other duties.

Mr Morley said it left the warden feeling, “anxious, cautious and more vulnerable”, for a lot of the time while working, thereafter.

The court heard Simm was arrested on suspicion of making a threat to kill.

A charge of affray was preferred by the crown at court, to which 40-year-old Simm, of King Edward Street, Shildon, pleaded guilty.

The court was told he has 37 convictions for 73 offences for a variety of matters, including theft and fraud.

Tony Cornberg, mitigating, said the defendant is trying to deal with his issues and voluntarily attends a substance misuse service twice a week.

Judge Ray Singh told him: “Wardens patrolling the streets are there to look after you and other members of the public.

“Whatever issues and disagreements you may have with this warden, your behaviour was completely out of order, threatening to commit violence.

“It can be a difficult and extremely dangerous job on occasions on the streets he had to patrol and meant, in this case, he had to be changed from his routine duties for his protection, and all because of your behaviour.”

Imposing a four-month prison sentence, Judge Singh suspended it for two years, but he made Simm subject of a four-month electronically-monitored 6pm to 6am home curfew, except for the two evenings a week he attends the substance misuse service.

He also put in place a three-year restraining order prohibiting Simm from approaching or contacting the warden, unless reporting a genuine emergency.