A homeless man lost the plot with a terrified allotment holder - making a chilling threat to kill her and her sister.
Police were alerted after Michael Remmer, who had been sleeping rough in a caravan at East View Allotments, Boldon Colliery, for a month, hurled angry abuse at a shell-shocked woman.
Magistrates heard the abuse left the woman “shaking” and “holding back tears” after the confrontation at the allotment where she has been a familiar face for 20 years.
Remmer, of no fixed abode, admitted using threatening, abusive or insulting words when he appeared at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court and was handed a 12-month community order and banned from going to the allotments for a year.
He was also ordered to pay prosecution costs of £85 and a £60 victim surcharge.
The court heard that Remmer’s stay at the allotment - which had been permitted by a fellow plot holder - had sparked a number of complaints to South Tyneside Council.
Under allotment garden agreements, tenants are not allowed to used their plots as a residence or sleeping place for any person.
Remmer, 48, was arrested in a nearby street soon after the incident.
John McGlone, prosecuting, said: “The woman has attended the allotment for 20 years.
“For the past four weeks a male has been sleeping rough in a caravan at the allotment, who users knew only as ‘Mike the tramp’. He has been making fires to keep warm.
“At 3.30pm on Tuesday, January 19, the woman saw the defendant carrying a green bottle.
“He said to her ‘I will kill you and your sister’ and started to follow her.
“She began to shake and had to hold back tears. Her sister and another witness turned up in a car.
“She said she rang the police, as she didn’t know what he was capable of.”
Remmer was seen riding a bike away, but was found by police on Redcar Terrace, East Boldon, later that day.
Charlton Carr, defending, said Remmer had “no intention” to carry out his threat.
Mr Carr said: “He has been living with permission from one of the plot holders in a caravan at the allotment. Other users are not happy with him being there.
“It is clear he had no intention to kill anyone. He has a rather sad life, drinking cider and living rough in a caravan in an allotment and burning rubbish to keep warm.”
A South Tyneside Council spokesman said: “Our Allotment team has been working closely with the police following a number of complaints at the site.
“As this matter concerns a vulnerable individual, our Homefinder officers have also offered Mr Remmer help and support to find suitable accommodation.”