Burglar 'growled like caged animal' as he attacked former partner's new man with coffee table and metal crutch

A raider ‘growled like a caged animal’ as he savagely attacked his former partner's new man during a break-in at her home.

Thursday, 17th October 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 18th October 2019, 1:23 pm

John Joyce, 38, was already on bail for assaulting Lee Fletcher, who had started a relationship with his ex Melanie Cockburn, when he broke into her home.

Newcastle Crown Court heard as Mr Fletcher dozed on her sofa in April, he was woken by Joyce smashing his way and launching a terrifying attack.

The court heard Joyce shouted threats to kill the victim and when he was arrested, told police: "It felt so good, it was just too sweet, it was pre-planned and he deserved it."

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John Joyce, 38, was already on bail for assaulting Lee Fletcher, who had started a relationship with his ex Melanie Cockburn, when he broke into her home.

Joyce, who admitted burglary with intent to commit GBH, threats to kill, assault and criminal damage, has now been jailed for four years.

Graeme Cook, prosecuting, said it was on the afternoon of April 29 this year that Joyce went to his ex partner's home at Shakespeare Avenue, in Hebburn.

He told the court: "Mr Fletcher says he was woken from his sleep on the sofa by the sound of the front door slamming and within seconds the door to the front room was kicked open and he was viciously set upon.

"He was repeatedly punched, kicked and stamped on and was struck with a coffee table and crutch.

"He shouted 'you're dead, you're dead, is what you're doing worth it?'.

"Miss Cockburn said he was growling like a caged animal while punching him to the head."

While being taken to a police van he repeatedly shouted 'you're dead' towards Mr Fletcher and at the police station he was asked if she thought what he had done was right and replied: "Yes I do think it's right that I did it."

Miss Cockburn said the attack had affected her mentally, adding: "He terrified me when he entered my property."

Joyce, of Shaftsbury House, South Shields, destroyed a television and caused damage to a coffee table as well as assaulting Mr Fletcher.

Judge Tim Gittins told Joyce: "You attacked him in what was an unprovoked assault.

"You were punching and kicking him repeatedly and trying to bite his nose and you used a coffee table as a weapon and a metal crutch as a weapon.

"All the while, having lost your self-control completely, you were threatening to do not just more damage, but to kill him.

"He was so terrified, he fled that house.

"Even after the police had been called, and this is a worrying aspect, even after you had calmed down to some extent, you were still saying it was the right thing to do and not only had he deserved it but you had taken pleasure in it."

Vic Laffey, defending, said: "The defendant is someone who has had the ability to be an extremely worthwhile member of society.

"Alcohol has been a feature in his life for a number of years now.

"He has been known by mental health services since he was a child.

"It was a case of somebody coming to the end off a cliff and falling off but he has now set about dealing with his problems."