Hostage menaced with meat cleaver

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Crime story
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A MAN held a meat cleaver to his terrified partner’s face and threatened to take her hostage, a court heard.

Katie McColl’s horrific ordeal began after she and Dean Wallbank began arguing while staying overnight at a friend’s home on June 13 after a night out.

He struck her in the face and punched her to the head and she fled and hid behind a nearby waste bin but Wallbank found her and dragged her back. He also rang the police, giving a false name and address saying he had assaulted his girlfriend.

“He said the police had 10 minutes to arrive before he would kill her,” said Ken Grant, prosecuting.

Officers arrived at the premises in Common Lane, Tyldesley, and could hear a woman screaming, “get him off me, I’m going to die.”

They found the couple in the kitchen with Wallbank pinning her between his legs with his left arm around her neck in a headlock and with a metal meat cleaver with an 8ins blade in his other hand.

He held this to the side of her face and said, “back off, I’m taking her hostage.” The officers engaged him in conversation and persuaded him to put the weapon down and then managed to detain him. When searched he had a small amount of cannabis on him, said Mr Grant.

Wallbank, 26, of Shakerley Road, Tyldesley, pleaded guilty at Liverpool Crown Court to making threats to kill. Charges of false imprisonment and assault causing actual bodily harm were dropped,

He was sentenced to 16 months’ imprisonment suspended for two years and placed under supervision for two years. He was ordered to attend a probation run domestic violence programme and the judge imposed a three month electronically monitored curfew.

Judge Denis Watson, QC, said that Wallbank had intended to terrify the victim and had done so. “The facts of the offence are horrific.”

He told him that the offence was so serious that it passed the custody threshold but he took into account his retreat and willingness to change and so suspended the sentence.

Hugh Barton, defending, said that Wallbank, who had never received a jail sentence, has spent the equivalent of five months in custody on remand.

He regretted his behaviour and Ms McColl, the mother of his young son, was present in the public gallery.

The offence happened after he sank into a deep depression after a freak accident which left him with leg injuries cost him his job.

Wallbank had turned to drink and cannabis as self-medication. He was remorseful for the offence about which he has little recollection. He is an industrious young man and plans to go to university and set up his own business, added Mr Barton.