A man reacted angrily and attacked his father, for whom he was the main carer at the time, in a row over his alleged treatment of the defendant’s pet dog.

Durham Crown Court was told Reece Niles’ father was in poor health at the time, on October 2 last year, and has spent two periods in hospital since.

Ian West, prosecuting, said the trigger for Niles’ outburst was an argument over the welfare of his dog.

He lost his temper and grabbed a kitchen knife, waving it in front of his father’s face.

The Northern Echo: Reece Niles was jailed for 16 months at Durham Crown Court for his angry and violent reaction in a

Niles then smashed up the living room table with a pick axe and shouted aggressively at his father, pushing him backwards against a wall.

Mr West said the victim was so fearful as to what his son might do next that he fled the property, in Easington Village, raising the alarm at a nearby primary school, leading to the arrest of the defendant.

In a statement given by Mr Niles snr, shortly after the incident, he claimed the defendant had abused him for a year, making his life, “a living hell”, and said he needs to be kept away from him.

The statement, read to the court by Mr West, went on: “I’m worried when he gets out of police custody he will carve me up with a knife.

“This incident has been constantly on my mind and I’ve had nightmares about Reece attacking me.”

He added that he felt that if he had not got out of his flat he feared his son would have killed him.

The defendant, aged 25, formerly of Newton Aycliffe, has been in custody since the day after the incident.

Appearing at the crown court on October 31, he denied making knife threats, making a threat to kill, assault by beating and damaging property.

But with his trial looming, a guilty plea to an alternative count of affray, to reflect his behaviour in the entire incident, was accepted by the Crown.

The court was told that the guilty plea was made on the basis there was no threat to kill his father.

Niles’ previous six convictions, the last in 2019, were said to include two where he was carrying but not using, a knife, other an incident of self-harm, before throwing it away.

Caroline McGurk, in mitigation, said the defendant understands his father’s views over not wanting to see him may have mellowed since the time of the incident.

He said for the three years leading up to the incident the defendant had been the main carer for his 65-year-old father.

Miss McGurk said the defendant has had his own mental and physical issues and had taken an overdose of tablets on the morning of the incident,

By the time he was arrested and interviewed by police he was still feeling the effects of the overdose.

The Northern Echo:

Miss McGurk said her client had been offence-free for four years prior to the incident, which she said arose after his father left Niles’ six-month-old puppy tethered to a fence, where, “anything could have happened to it.”

She said: “He, certainly, overreacted, but anyone would have been appalled and angry at the treatment of their pet or any animal.

“Had it not been for his father’s act, the defendant would not be appearing before any court.”

But she conceded he had caused “fear and distress” for his father by his reaction.

Judge Nathan Adams said in the row, Niles picked up a knife and threatened to cause harm with it, waving it in his father’s face, and damaging property.

“He was so scared he fled to a primary school seeking help and police were called.”

The judge said the use of a knife, even if just holding it, was, “a reoccurring theme” to the defendant’s offending, “regardless of what the nature of the dispute was with your father.”

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He told Adams: “It should no way have led to you smashing up furniture of your vulnerable father.

“There could be no doubt it caused serious fear for your father, aggravated by the fact it was in his home.

“You were supposed to be caring for him.”

Imposing a 16-month prison sentence, the judge said he would leave the matter of a restraining order in the air for a fortnight, to allow the Crown to seek the up-to-date views of the victim as to whether or not it was still requested.