Exmouth: tragedy dad spared jail for knife terror attack

PUBLISHED: 14:53 27 July 2016 | UPDATED: 14:54 27 July 2016

Exeter Crown Court. Picture by Alex Walton.

Exeter Crown Court. Picture by Alex Walton.

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A man who threatened his Exmouth girfriend with a knife has been shown mercy by a judge after it was revealed he is still struggling with the sudden death of his previous partner and two children

A judge has shown mercy on a man who subjected his Exmouth girlfriend to a terrifying knifepoint ordeal after hearing how he was still suffering the emotional effects of the death of his previous partner and her two sons.

Exeter Crown Court heard how Neil Patterson was still struggling to come to terms the death of 24-year-old Katherine Hooper, who died in July 2013 with her five-year-old son after they fell from Haytor, Dartmoor; her youngest son was found dead on his bed at the family home.

Patterson, aged 55, was spared an immediate jail term and ordered to receive bereavement therapy as part of a probation supervision by a judge at Exeter Crown Court.

A probation report revealed how Patterson was struggling to cope with the emotional turmoil of the tragic loss of Katherine, who jumped off Haytor with her son, Josh, aged five, on her shoulders. Police found two-year-old son Sam dead on his bed at the family’s home in Paignton

The court was told how Patterson’s inability to come to terms with his grief contributed to him losing control and grabbing the knife when his new partner ended their relationship in February this year.

The victim fled her flat in Exmouth in terror and was rescued by bouncers at a pub in St Andrews Road. Patterson used the knife on himself during the incident and police found it imbedded in a kitchen worktop, the court heard.

Patterson, of Oakleigh Road, Horsham, admitted threatening behaviour after more serious charges of assault and making threats to kill were dropped.

He was jailed for 18 weeks, suspended for two years, and ordered to undertake rehabilitation activities including grief counselling by Recorder Mr Paul Dunkels, QC.

He also made a restraining order forbidding any further contact with the victim.

The Judge told him: “When she told you the relationship was over, you took up a large kitchen knife. This must have been a terrifying experience for her.

“You made verbal threats about killing her and yourself, you waved the knife around and stabbed it into a table top. At some stage you cut yourself, no doubt in an attempt to make her believe you were serious. She fled and fortunately others intervened.

“Taking up a knife is always a serious matter and these courts often deal with cases in which serious injury or even death has resulted when somebody has taken up a knife while in an emotional state, as you were that night.

“I accept that your reaction was related to the personal tragedy which you experienced but that does not excuse your behaviour.”

Mr Jonathan Barnes, prosecuting, said Patterson met the victim after the tragedy in 2013 in which he lost his partner and two sons and formed a relationship which lasted until February this year.

She told him it was over while he was away in Greece working as a courier and when he returned he went to stay with her in Exmouth.

On the night of the attack they had been drinking heavily before she repeated that she did not want to continue with him and he became upset.

Mr Barnes said: “He took a kitchen knife. He pointed it at her and told her to sit down. He kept holding it towards her in a stabbing motion and he said ‘you and I are going to die tonight’.

“The victim says she was terrified he would kill her. He repeated the words and at one time dug the knife into his own leg. He put it behind his back and when he brought it back she saw his finger was bleeding.

“He kept stabbing the dining table. She was trying to calm him down. She managed to get up, push him back and run out into the street. He ran after her saying he would never hurt her.

“She shouted out and some door staff at a pub arrived on the scene and separated the two. She returned home but he followed and was shouting through a window, so she called the police.”

Mr William Parkhill, defending, asked the judge to take into account a stand down probation report which highlighted the contribution the 2013 tragedy made to Patterson’s fragile emotional condition.

The report said: “He is suitable for a rehabilitation requirement and work could be done on his emotional management. It would look at this offence and enable him to get bereavement counselling.

“If the issue of bereavement is not dealt with positively, it is always going to be there under the surface. It is something probation can help with.”

Mr Parkhill said Patterson has accepted the relationship with the victim is over and is now living with his family in the South East.

He is has had to give up his work as a courier temporarily due to a shoulder injury that needs surgery.

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