A MAN who threatened to 'chop up and eat' his ex-partner and her child if she gave evidence against him in court after he throttled her has narrowly avoided an immediate prison sentence.

Jordan Cunningham was arrested after he attacked his ex-partner in Catterick Garrison last year before becoming embroiled in a fight with an off-duty police officer who intervened.

The 21-year-old initially attacked the woman while they were at a house party but his abusive behaviour continued outside where it caught the attention of the officer and his PCSO partner, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Nadim Bashir, prosecuting, said Cunningham threw punches at both of the couple as they attempted to restrain him after challenging him about grabbing his victim by the throat, on June 25 last year.

Not content with being arrested for assault and affray, the defendant then sent threatening messages and abusive phone calls to his victim and her friend two months later ahead of a court appearance.

Mr Bashir said: "She said he began making threats towards her and her son saying 'watch your back', if I was to go to court and he said 'he would chop me and my son up and eat us like a kebab'.

"The complainant was caused a great deal of upset."

Cunningham, formerly of Catterick Garrison but now of Lythemere, Peterborough, pleaded guilty to assault, affray and two charges of witness intimidation.

Kelleigh Lodge, in mitigation, said her client was 'genuinely sorry' for his behaviour and urged the judge to give him credit for his early guilty plea.

She said: "He doesn't attempt to minimise his actions and fully accepts the prosecution case and he does accept fully responsibility and regrets his actions on that occasion."

Recorder Martin Rose sentenced Cunningham to 21 months in custody, suspended for two years.

"You have come as close to going to custody as you can get without actually going through the door," he said.

"This will be a final chance, if you breach it you will be going to custody."

He added: "On the first occasion you told them they would be 'dead people' if they went to court. On the second occasion you issued threats to her and her son saying 'you would chop them up' – that caused her, understandably, a great deal of upset.

"She took those messages as a serious threat but it did not serve your purpose because she summonsed the courage to provide a statement."

Cunningham was also ordered to perform 200 hours of unpaid work, attend 30 rehabilitation activity requirement days and take part in a thinking skills course.

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