Man who attacked girlfriend in South Shields asked 'any chance of a different judge?' after being scolded in court

A defendant kicked up a stink in court – and asked to be put before a different judge after being scolded for his behaviour.

Thursday, 2nd December 2021, 4:55 am

Mouthy Michael Thornton, 30, was repeatedly warned by District Judge Kathryn Meek to be quiet at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.

At one point she told Thornton, of Belgrave Terrace, South Shields, he would be removed from courtroom number one if he did not pipe down.

After pleading guilty to attacking his girlfriend at Mill Dam, also South Shields, on Friday, April 23, he repeatedly interrupted proceedings.

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The case was heard at South Tyneside Magistrates Court.

The court heard Thornton grabbed his victim by her arms and face and also pushed her to the ground after a booze session.

During the attack, which was captured on CCTV, the dad also picked up and tossed winter grit.

After Judge Meek told him a report was needed into his behaviour before he could be sentenced, he retorted, “You don’t know me, I’m not trying to be funny”.

He then asked his defence solicitor, Charlton Carr, “Is there any chance I can get to see a different judge, Charlie?”

On being told by the judge there was not, he left the courtroom to start the report with a Probation Service official – and swore as he went.

Prosecutor Jonathan Stirland set out the case to the court.

He told the hearing: “The facts are that Mr Thornton and the lady have been in a relationship and have argued.

“She and Mr Thornton were walking at the Mill Dam after a day of drinking alcohol.

“An argument broke out while they were walking towards South Shields. The incident was captured on CCTV.

“He has become very aggressive and has thrown a grit bin into a public footpath. It culminated in him grabbing his girlfriend’s arms and face.

“CCTV shows him being physically and verbally aggressive towards her. He leaves the Mill Dam.

“When she walks away, he follows and becomes physically aggressive, grabbing her arms and holding her back.

“They walked back to the Mill Dam and he pushes her, causing her to fall onto her back. Members of the public intervene.”

Thornton, who has 10 previous convictions, pleaded guilty to using threats with intent to cause fear of unlawful violence.

Mr Carr set out mitigation to the court.

He said: “This gentleman has some significant mental health issues, that’s why he presents the way he does.

“It’s an early guilty plea. He tells me that he’s extremely sorry about the incident.

“Historically, the difficulty with Mr Thornton was that he suffered seriously with epilepsy which turned into a brain injury and a personality disorder.

“This manifests itself, albeit with alcohol involved.”

Sentencing Thornton, Judge Meek described his attack as “sustained” and serious enough to alarm witnesses.

But she also said he had shown an ability to stay out of trouble.

She handed Thornton a 12-month community order, with up to 15 days of rehabilitation work, and he was fined £250, with a £95 victim surcharge and £85 court costs.

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