Sunderland man who went out in Halloween mask carrying meat cleaver caused terror "like a horror film"

A Sunderland man caused terror "like a horror film" when he went out in a Halloween mask armed with a large meat cleaver and blood on his hands.

Friday, 29th October 2021, 3:27 pm

Ben McCabe, who was "full of hell", had warned he was "going to kill someone before long" during an angry confrontation with his father, who had tried to disarm him, in January.

The 29-year-old, who told his dad he had just been punched by someone and had blood on his face, damaged the front door with the large bladed weapon before he left the house.

Newcastle Crown Court heard McCabe turned his fury on people nearby, who were forced to flee in fear.

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Ben McCabe

Prosecutor Jessica Slaughter told the court McCabe first approached two sisters who were talking in a parked car in Sunderland.

Miss Slaughter said: "The defendant approached the driver's side, wearing a black Halloween mask, carrying a meat cleaver.

"He had blood on his hands.

"He pulled the meat cleaver up, hitting the driver's side window, shouting and demanded money.

The meat cleaver recovered by police.

"He struck the car several times, until the driver was able to compose herself and she could drive away."

The driver said she was left "terrified" and her car was damaged.

The court heard McCabe then targeted a mother and daughter who had heard his demands for money.

Miss Slaughter added: "The defendant approached them and shouted 'what the **** are you looking at, get back in your ******* house' and began to ran towards them, still holding the meat cleaver.

Ben McCabe

"They ran in the house and locked the front door.

"The defendant smashed the window of the front door and was seen running away."

The court heard police found McCabe hiding in nearby woodland.

The mum said in a victim statement: "I kept thinking what if I didn't get in the house and get the door closed in time, what would have happened?"

The mask worn by McCabe.

Her daughter said she felt "terror and panic" and added: "I am still in shock over what happened and having flashbacks.

"It was like a horror film.

"I will never forget how scared I was, I thought I was going to die."

McCabe, of Torquay Road, Sunderland, admitted having a bladed article, criminal damage, attempted robbery and affray.

Mr Recorder Carl Gumsley sentenced him to three years and four months behind bars.

The judge told him: "These are very serious offences, you brandished a meat cleaver at perfectly innocent people who had done absolutely nothing wrong and who, I am satisfied, were utterly terrified and deeply affected."

The court heard McCabe has mental health problems which are made worse by substance abuse.

Tony Cornberg, defending, said McCabe has been admitted to a psychiatric hospital in the past, still receives mental health support in the community and is making "some progress" in coming off drink and drugs.

Mr Cornberg added: "There are lines he could have crossed with that weapon and he didn't."