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'Ticking time bomb' Sunderland man assaulted estranged wife after driving to her home three times over the limit

A “ticking time bomb” Sunderland man threatened to kill his estranged wife after driving to her home while over three times the limit, a court was told.

By Gareth Crickmer
Friday, 28th January 2022, 4:55 am

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Andrew Neal, 44, pushed into the woman’s home and grabbed her neck.

When her terrified mum tried to summon police on Thursday, June 17, he shoved her too, South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court heard.

Officers arrived and arrested him – and he was breathalysed after they found the keys to his parked-up Mini Copper in his pocket, prosecutor Niamh Reading said.

Andrew Neal.

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Neal, of Nairn Close, Springwell, gave a reading of 122mcg of alcohol in 100ml of breath, against a legal limit of 35mcg.

Magistrates jailed Neal for 16 weeks but suspended his sentence for 18 months.

They were told the couple had split after 13 years together due to his “drinking and abusive nature”, and he had left the family home by January 2020.

Ms Reading said of the incident: “She could smell alcohol on his breath and knew he had driven. He pushed her violently in the hallway, and called her a ***** and a *******.

“He was pointing his finger in her face and said, ‘I’ll kill you’. He grabbed her by the throat and pinned her against a wall.”

Ms Reading said employed Neal then pushed his mother-in-law and squeezed her cheeks when she tried to dial 999.

In a victim statement, Neal’s wife described him as a “ticking time bomb just waiting to explode”.

He pleaded guilty to drink-driving and was found guilty at trial of two charges of assault by beating.

Annalisa Moscardini, defending, said Neal still denied the assault allegations but wanted to work on his alcohol problem.

She added: “He does realise he damaged the recent years of his life because of this taking over.

“This offence was the culmination of everything and since then his drinking has stopped.

“He does accept he needs help because he’s a recovering alcoholic.”

Magistrates jailed Neal for eight weeks for the assault on his wife and to four weeks for the second attack, to run concurrently.

They also imprisoned him for eight weeks for drink-driving, to run consecutively, with all sentences suspended.

He was banned from driving for 28 months, and must complete 28 days of rehabilitation work.

And he must pay £620 court costs and compensation of £100 to his wife and £50 to his mother-in-law.

He was also made subject to a two-year restraining order not to contact his wife other than through a third party, or her mum.