Mother tells of horror after six-knife neighbour’s terrifying house call

Thomas Hetherington
Thomas Hetherington
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A MUM has spoken of the terrifying moment a man armed with six knives brandished them at her front door.

Nicola Robinson, 40, says she feared for the safety of her 12-year-old son when Thomas Hetherington banged on the door of her home in Neville Court, Washington, waving the weapons.

I looked out of the window, but couldn’t see anything. So I opened the door and he was stood with the knives.

The mum-of-two says she was so scared after the incident last July that she has since moved elsewhere in the town.

Last week Hetherington, 35, now of Waterloo Court, Washington, was given a four-month jail sentence suspended for 12 months, 12 months’ supervision and 80 hours’ unpaid work, after he admitted affray.

Nicola, who is mum to Alexander, 12, was a neighbour of Hetherington at the time of the incident, and said: “I heard a noise and he was braying at the door.

“I looked out of the window, but couldn’t see anything. So I opened the door and he was stood with the knives.

“The bairn was stood behind me and the guy was saying something but he was incoherent. I just slammed the door and called the police.

“If the door wasn’t solid I dread to think what could have happened. Five police cars came and tackled him to the floor.”

Newcastle Crown Court heard that Hetherington approached his former neighbour’s property at about 6.45pm on July 15 last year, armed with the knives.

Defending, Glen Gatland, said: “Mr Hetherington had returned from working night shift and heard a child crying.

“He tried to sleep, but he couldn’t because of the noise. He then armed himself with the knives and went over to the house next door.

“He is currently on medication for depression and I believe this changed his approach. He effectively snapped.”

He added: “He is determined to turn his life around significantly.”

Nicola added: “I don’t know how he heard a child crying. My boy is 12 years old and was asleep as it was so early in the morning. I read about it in the paper and I think the sentence that was given to him was disgusting. We were terrified.

“It was a massive relief when we moved house, away from that estate, because of what happened there.”