A heavily intoxicated man faked a hostage situation which led to a police stand-off outside a residential property for several hours on Christmas Eve.

Durham Crown Court was told that police were called to reports of a disturbance at an address in Sacriston, at 3.50am on December 24, last year.

Martin Towers, prosecuting, told the court that on arrival at the address in Ripley Court the police were refused entry by the highly inebriated occupants, with the officers forming the view that defendant Lewis Donnelly was the, “principal antagonist”.

He made threats to fight police and when officers tried to gain entry they were forced back as items of furniture were thrown at them.

The Northern Echo: Police were involved in a stand-off for several hours outside a property in Sacriston on Chrismas

Donnelly shouted threats at the officers from an upstairs window, suggesting he would, “stab people and chop them up”, as he showed the police present outside an eight-inch bladed knife.

Mr Towers said the defendant also threw objects, including beer cans, out of the window towards the officers.

Donnelly later claimed the other two men with him were his hostages and he appeared to put a knife to the throat of one of them, although the supposed detainee appeared to be laughing.

He said he would kill people and send body parts out to police if negotiators were not sent to the scene.

The situation persisted, and in due course, negotiators did attend, as well as firearms officers and the police dog section.

The Northern Echo: Police were invovled in a stand-off with a drunken man who claimed to have two hostages held at

Eight hours into the stand-off Donnelly again came to the window and offered to fight police before throwing a glass milkshake bottle at them, as well as a plate, which shattered, causing fragments to hit one of the officers.

But shortly after 1pm the defendant did walk out of the house with two other men.

Mr Towers said given the police time and resources deployed, it has been estimated the bill for the operation amounted to £5,658.

The Northern Echo:

The court heard the 23-year-old defendant, of no fixed abode, who was initially accused of wasting police time and making threats, offered an “acceptable” plea to a single count of affray.

He was said to be lightly convicted with only one previous offence on his record, for criminal damage in January last year.

Vic Laffey, in mitigation, said he has met the defendant several times and he is, “extremely ashamed” for his actions on Christmas Eve.

“He’s a young man who has had quite a few problems in his life and, yet, remarkably didn’t trouble the courts until he was 22.”

Mr Laffey said after the defendant lost a close family member six years ago his life has never got back on track, and he has drifted between the North East and York in that time.

“Despite homelessness, things appeared to be taking a turn for the better.

“He’s managed, until recently, to avoid trouble with the court despite a history of mental health problems.

“He has suffered with long-term ADHD and dyslexia and has had troubles with drugs, but that appears to have been in the past.

“But, he has had huge issues with alcohol and has been street homeless until very recently, as he has moved in with a partner in the local area, but he anticipates that will be short-term.”

Mr Laffey said the defendant has received “huge help” from a Salvation Army scheme, Sanctuary 21, in Durham and hopes to find accommodation of his own in the near future.

“He accepts this was a bad and farcical situation, and, at worse, a very serious situation.

“The amount expended was phenomenal, even if the harm was not as great as it could have been.

“It could have been a lot worse.

“I don’t think that at any point he would have harmed any of the people in the building.

“I don’t think any of them was in fear of being harmed.

“Throwing things out of the window was just ludicrous.

”Had he just allowed police in, it would have taken an hour and not as long as it did.

“The worst thing was the amount of time it took and the expenditure to the public purse.

“He’s embarrassed at the problems he caused that night.”

Mr Laffey confirmed the other people with the defendant in the house were his friends and he would not have harmed them.

He added: “He had drunk an enormous amount and still drinks too much.

“He’s been assessed for an alcohol treatment order for which he has been considered suitable.”

Judge Nathan Adams told the defendant his actions on Christmas Eve were, “very serious”.

“You caused a considerable waste of police resources and public money by effectively barricading yourself into that property and making out you were holding those who were your friends as hostages, and you maintained that over a few hours.

“There can be no criticism of the police as they were not to know that was not the case.

“I take into account that despite your issues you have a limited criminal history and you pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.

“I’m satisfied I can step back from an immediate prison sentence, but it seems to me that the community is best served by placing an onerous community sentence on you, under the guidance of the Probation Service.

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“I make it plain that any breach of this order will bring you before me at this court and I will take a very different view.”

He passed a 12-month community order, which will include the defendant taking part in 45 rehabilitation activity days with the Probation Service, as well as making him subject of a nine-month alcohol treatment requirement.

Judge Adams advised the defendant: “Make good progress with this order to keep you out of trouble in future.”