‘You’re going to burn’ – psychiatric patient’s ‘ugly’ threats to ex-girlfriend

Jean Costello is angry over Bede Wing staffing.

Jean Costello is angry over Bede Wing staffing.

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A FORMER businessman sent threats to his ex-girlfriend from a psychiatric unit where he was being held.

Michael Steinberg warned Natalie White “I’m going to torture you” and told her “you are going to burn”, during a terrifying series of emails sent from the Bede Wing, in the grounds of South Tyneside District Hospital, South Shields, in April.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the 48-year-old told Miss White he had been sectioned under the mental health act at the hospital and claimed: “I can never be held responsible for my actions”.

Prosecutor Graeme O’Sullivan told the court the couple’s eight-year relationship broke down in February last year, but they had stayed friends even when he moved away to Thailand to work.

The court heard things changed after Miss White refused to go for a Valentine’s Day drink with him this year.

It was in the early hours of April 13 that he sent the threats, leaving Miss White, from Sunderland, fearing for the safety of herself and her family.

The court heard Miss White told police she was left “petrified” by the ordeal.

Steinberg, of no fixed address, admitted harassment.

Judge Paul Sloan, QC, sentenced him to nine months’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months. The judge said the jail term could be suspended due to the time Steinberg spent on remand. Judge Sloan told Steinberg: “In recent times your world had come crashing down around you – you lost your business, your partner, your home, you were drinking to excess and using cannabis.”

The court heard Steinberg, whose new partner in Thailand has recently given birth to his baby, plans to move back abroad within days.

Judge Sloan ordered him to stay away from Miss White under the terms of a restraining order.

Andrew Semple, defending, admitted the threatening messages were “ugly” and said they had been a “knee-jerk reaction” at a very low point in Steinberg’s life.

Mr Semple said Steinberg will abide by the restraining order to stay away from his ex and is concentrating on getting back to Thailand to see the child he has not yet met.