Sunderland man 'terrified' woman with imitation firearm after threatening 'a rampage'

Baker was handed a suspended sentence at Newcastle Crown Court today.
Baker was handed a suspended sentence at Newcastle Crown Court today.

A man who pointed an imitation firearm at his ex-girlfriend's neighbour after threatening to go on a "rampage" is back on the streets.

Christopher Baker warned his former partner during a series of texts last April that he had a gun, was going to shoot people and told her "I will go on a rampage".

Newcastle Crown Court heard the 31-year-old turned up outside his ex's home in Sunderland on May 8 while she was out shopping and confronted a neighbour, who was out gardening.

Neil Pallister, prosecuting, told the court: "She states the defendant approached the fence and pointed a handgun at her.

"She said it looked like a pistol."

The court heard the woman was left "absolutely terrified" and said in a statement: "I actually thought I was going to die.

"I thought he was going to pull the trigger in that moment and shoot me and end my life."

The court heard after the neighbour gave a statement to police about her ordeal, Baker turned up at her home, called her a "grass" and warned "watch what's going to happen to you now".

The worried mum told police Baker's second approach left her scared to be in her own home and fearful for her family.

She said she was worried about seeing Baker in the street.

Baker, of High Street East, Sunderland, admitted harassment of his ex-partner, possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear or violence and witness intimidation.

Baker told police the weapon was a BB gun which he had found and later discarded.

He also admitted unrelated offences of common assault and criminal damage after leaving a woman in fear while asking to use her phone.

Lee Fish, mitigating, said Baker, who has convictions for more than 30 previous offences, has never been to prison before but has spent more than eight months in custody on remand.

Mr Fish said alcohol lies at the heart of Baker's problems, which he has sought professional help to address while in jail.

Mr Fish added: "He has accessed support and assistance available to him. He has been drying out. "

Mr Recorder John Aitken sentenced Baker to two years imprisonment, suspended for two years, with rehabilitation and programme requirements and a five-year restraining order to keep him away from his victims.

The judge told Baker: "It is alcohol that gets you into this trouble and your relationships with other people."

Recorder Aitken said Baker had "made an effort" while being held in prison and that the time spent on remand, as well as his guilty pleas, meant his jail term for the offences could be suspended.