A man who threatened to kill his partner with a hammer during a late-night row has been ordered to stay away from her indefinitely.

Matthew Cureton grabbed a claw hammer before walking into the bedroom and shouting ‘I’m going to kill you. You’re not going to wake up in the morning’.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the 52-year-old’s terrified partner managed to roll over on her bed and call the police before the defendant realised what was happening and yanked the telephone out of its socket.

Joe Hedworth, prosecuting, said the couple had been in a relationship for four decades but had been mainly platonic for four years.

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The judge heard how Cureton held the hammer within inches of the woman’s face and she genuinely feared who would carry out his threats.

Mr Hedworth said the defendant had a history of domestic violence and had been sentenced three years ago for making threats to kill his partner.

Cureton, formerly of Coleridge Gardens, Darlington, pleaded guilty to possession of an offensive weapon within the home and damaging property following the incident on November 10 last year.

The court heard how the defendant had 16 convictions for 26 offences, predominately for domestic abuse-related incidents.

Brian Russell, mitigating, said his client had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and was living like ‘groundhog day’ after being remanded in custody.

He added: “He has expressed real regret for the way he treated his former partner. He says it is a bit like ‘groundhog day’ and he is beginning to struggle to remember why he is in prison and what is happening day to day.”

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Recorder Aisha Wadoodi sentenced Cureton to an 18-month community order and imposed an indefinite restraining order to protect his former partner.

She added: “You held a hammer very close to her face and she was very concerned for her own safety. She says she doesn’t feel safe in her house.

“She thought it was the Alzheimer’s but she feels like you are using that as an excuse for your behaviour.

“She wants you out of the house as the relationship cannot go any further.”