A man who threatened a care worker with a knife before stealing her car and taking police on a dangerous chase through a North East town left his victim fearing for her life.

Spencer McKittrick targeted the community carer while she was attending patients’ homes before tearing off in her Nissan Micra and crashing it during his desperate attempt to flee police.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the 20-year-old was arrested after abandoning the car in Middlesbrough and trying to escape on foot.

Ian West, prosecuting, said the incident had left the victim fearing for her life and had a severe impact on her ability to feel safe at work.

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He said: “She was sitting in the driver’s seat when the defendant, who was wearing black clothing and had his face covered by a balaclava - he was brandishing a flick knife.

“He told her to get out of the car and if she screamed, he would stab her. She did as she was told and got out.

“The defendant got in the car and drove off.”

The court heard how the stolen Micra was later spotted by police as McKittrick drove it around Middlesbrough before he sped off to avoid arrest.

In a victim impact statement, the care worker said the incident had left her fearing for her life and scared about working alone in the community.

She added: “I keep thinking he could have killed me when he pointed the knife at me.”

The Northern Echo: Spencer McKittrickSpencer McKittrick (Image: Cleveland Police)

McKittrick, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to robbery, having an article with a blade or point, damaging property, dangerous driving, driving whilst disqualified, possession of cannabis, failing to provide a specimen of breath, and driving without insurance.

John Nixon, mitigating, said his client was ‘a puzzling young man’ who had been turning his life around and was working hard but had ‘fallen off the edge’ when he committed the offences on July 1 this year.

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Judge Chris Smith sentenced the defendant to 44 months in a young offenders’ institute and banned him from driving for a total of four years and ten months.

He said: “Your victim was minding her own business, working hard as a carer, she came back to her car when you approached her with a balaclava on and waving a knife in your hand and for some inexplicable reason you threatened to stab her.

“You left her really badly shaken and she might not get over this for years.”