A MAN who brandished a large hunting knife at a terrified mother and threatened to cut her head off in front of her children playing in the street has been jailed.

Stuart David Slater fled the scene in Burnopfield when police were called, but was eventually found with the help of a helicopter, Durham Crown Court was told.

Sentencing Slater to 16 months in prison Judge Christopher Prince said: “This was a serious and frightening incident. You had gone armed with a hunting knife and used it to threaten a woman at a time you were intoxicated and under the influence of cannabis.

“It is also aggravated by the fact that you were on conditional discharge and have on your record a previous conviction of having a bladed weapon.

“This is the first custodial sentence you have experienced at the age of 28 and I hope you will learn from your time in custody, particularly now you are getting advice for drugs.”

He added: “It is important that you view this as a punishment and also, as with all knife offences, it is important there is an element of deterrence.

“People must understand that if you go out into the street with a knife you must be sent to prison.”

Penny Bottomley, prosecuting, said the victim was at home in Burnopfield, when Slater and two woman walked past her living room window and dropped a can of lager.

When she knocked on the window and asked him to pick it up he began shouting aggressively at her.

Later, Slater followed her in the street, and “screamed in her face”.

Mr Bottomley said: “Slater had a hunting knife with a 5in blade in his left hand and waved it around and said “I want to cut your head off”.

“She was terrified. Her children were present as well as children playing in the street.

“She called the police and when they arrived the children were visibly shaken and crying.”

When police found Slater hiding behind a fence in Gareside Gardens, he fled. The handle of the knife was found where he had been. A helicopter was called in and Slater was found in a field, with cut hands and blood on his t-shirt.

The blade and sheath covered with Slater’s blood was found later.

Mark Stiles, mitigating, said Slater was deeply apologetic for the way he behaved and was genuinely remorseful. Slater of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to possession of a bladed article.