'Jekyll and Hyde' thug from South Tyneside threatened to slice ex's face off and blow up her home in chilling phone calls

A worried mum spent nights sleeping in a McDonald's car park to get away from her "Jekyll and Hyde" ex who had vowed "I'm not going to rest until something horrific happens to you".

Wednesday, 29th April 2020, 3:58 pm
Updated Thursday, 30th April 2020, 11:46 am
John McRae

John McRae, who was out of prison on life licence, had warned the woman her home would be blown up and her face would be sliced off during a series of chilling phone calls.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the 51-year-old brute made a total of 34 calls and sent a series of "vile" texts during just one day last December.

The victim said her relationship with McRae had been a "rollercoaster" of ups and downs but his behaviour after they split was "mental torture", that she has been "through hell" and ended up sleeping some nights in her car as she was afraid to go home.

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The case was heard at Newcastle Crown Court.

The 49-year-old mum said she tried to get help from McRae's probation officer, in a bid to put a stop to her ordeal but added: "I left three voicemails for his probation officer to contact me to prevent the ongoing hell. She never replied. I had no option but the go to the police."

The woman said she and her daughter are "normal, happy, decent people" who seek a "happy, normal life" but feels like a changed person and added: "This is as close to a living hell as I can imagine."

Prosecutor Emma Dowling told the court the victim has since moved home and changed her car in the hope McRae cannot trace her and spent time "sleeping in McDonald's car park and hotels" in a bid to keep safe.

Miss Dowling said the couple, who had been together less than two years, split up last summer.

Last December the victim saw McRae in a pub but avoided him and left.

It was the early hours of the following morning she received a telephone call from McRae, saying he had been assaulted in South Shields and that she was to blame.

A few days later she received an early morning call from McRae warning her house was going to "go up" and she heard him giving her address to another man.

McRae then made repeated calls, threatening to blow the house up and calling her abusive names.

Miss Dowling said: "He told her 'I know I'm going to jail for you but it will be time well spent'."

McRae warned the woman: "I'm going to slice your face off.

"I'm not going to rest until something horrific happens to you.

"You are getting your face cut off.

"Your face will get cut open, I swear to God."

The court heard some of the threats were overheard by a police officer, who the victim had contacted as the calls from him continued.

McRae, of Sycamore Avenue, South Shields, admitted harassment.

The court heard he has previous convictions for violence and was given an indeterminate sentence for the protection of the public in 2007 after he attacked two people and bit off part of one of his victim's ears.

Miss Dowling added: "The complainant knew the nature of the convictions and that he was on licence, she made numerous calls to his probation officer.

"That would have given her additional reason to believe he was capable of carrying out the threats that he made.

Judge Robert Spragg jailed McRae for three years and issued a lifelong restraining order to keep him away from the victim.

The judge said a a statement from the victim's daughter gave an insight into McRae's "Jekyll and Hyde" behaviour.

Judge Spragg said the victim described "mental torture" she had suffered and said she "just wants to get on with her life".

The judge added: "She describes nights spent sleeping in her car in car parks as she was afraid to sleep at home."

Judge Spragg warned: "Domestic abuse is regarded particularly seriously within the criminal justice system."

Vic Laffey, defending, said McRae, who was released from the indeterminate prison sentence seven years ago, bitterly regrets what he did and had been working well with the probation service until the relationship broke down.

Mr Laffey said the court hearing was the first time McRae had heard the impact statement made by the victim and added: "When she's said she has had to sleep in her car on occasions, we have to accept that is correct.

"He accepts the messages he left were vile."

Mr Laffey said McRae's guilty plea spared the victim from having to give evidence at trial.

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