Sunderland military hero threatened to chop love rival's head off

A former soldier confessed to police he planned to kill a love rival by "chopping his head off".

Andrew Gibbons was arrested after he turned up at James Thompson's home, smashed his way through the living room window with a knife and repeatedly warned: "I'm going to kill you."

Andrew Gibbons.

Andrew Gibbons.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the men had both been in relationships with the same woman, at different times, and she had rekindled her romance with Mr Thompson.

Prosecutor Neil Pallister told the court Mr Thompson heard the glass in the front door at his home in Hendon, Sunderland, crack first thing in the morning on June 14 and went to investigate.

Mr Pallister said: "He looked out of the door but couldn't see anything.

"He went into the living room, pulled back the curtains and found the defendant standing outside of the living room window.

"He heard the defendant say "get outside, I'm going to kill you".

The court heard Gibbons, 34, who has a Queen's Gallantry medal for his military service, was carrying a kitchen knife in his hand which he started to stab against the glass while shouting threats to kill.

Mr Pallister added: "He began to smash the glass of the living room window, using the knife.

"The defendant was chipping away at the window with the knife until he made a hole large enough to put his hand through.

"He placed his hand through the hole in the window and began waving the knife towards Mr Thompson, who had to take a step back."

When police arrived at the house, Gibbons told officers: "He's a dead man, he's going to die, I'm going to kill him."

He warned the police "if you don't remand me I'm going to kill him, he will be six feet under as soon as I get out".

Mr Pallister said Gibbons continued the threats during interview at the police station and added: "He said he went to the victim's home with the knife intending to kill him by chopping his head off."

Robin Turton, defending, told the court Gibbons spent almost two decades serving his county in the army, completed tours in Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq and lost a number of comrades during battle.

The court heard Gibbons assisted with the rescue effort after the Twin Towers terror attack in New York and was awarded a Queen's Gallantry medal in 2009 for his military service.

He was discharged from the army on medical grounds after being blinded in one eye, amongst other serious injuries and Mr Turton said the former squaddie has struggled with civilian life.

Mr Turton said Gibbons had been "still boiling" with anger during police interview but now feels "embarrassed and mortified" about his behaviour in June.

Judge Simon Batiste said Gibbons "completely lost it" that morning but was wiling to accept the threats were "hyperbole".

The judge said: "I am going to, on balance, take the view that it probably was hyperbole that was being said but it was a serious matter."

Judge Batiste said Gibbons has post traumatic stress disorder as a result of his army service, which the authorities can help him cope with.

The judge added: "Anyone who puts their life on the line in the way he has for his country of course has the gratefulness and support of the country."

Gibbons was sentenced to two years imprisonment, suspended for two years, with 200 hours of unpaid work and rehabilitation requirements

The judge told him: "You must understand, I am taking a chance upon you today."

Gibbons, of Noble Street, Hendon, Sunderland, pleaded guilty to threats to kill, possession of an offensive weapon and using violence to secure entry to a premises.