Terminally ill South Shields man spared jail after holding knife to ex-girlfriend's face

A terminally ill man has kept his freedom over a terrifying confrontation where he held a flick knife to his ex-girlfriend's face.

Darren Stephenson had met up with the woman in November last year so she could repay money she had borrowed from him during their relationship and give him back a gold chain.

The 51-year-old had travelled by ferry from South Shields and met her at the North Shields terminal, where he was "somewhat abrupt" with her before he produced the weapon, that she had spotted in his pocket.

The victim said in a statement: "He held the blade to my face, so the point was almost touching my nose and said to me 'because I don't trust you'."

Darren Stephenson.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the woman was "terrified" and feared he was going to use the knife on her.

She added: "I genuinely thought, in that split second, he was going to slash my face.

"I have never been threatened with a knife before and I hope never to go through it again."

The court heard Stephenson has now been diagnosed with terminal cancer and has been told he has 12 months to live.

Stephenson, of Edhill Avenue, South Shields, pleaded guilty to having a bladed article and common assault.

Mr Recorder Tony Hawks sentenced him to three months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, with a five year restraining order to protect the victim.

The judge said the circumstances of the case are "sad" and Stephenson, who has previous convictions, has been out of trouble for 16 years.

The judge warned Stephenson he could go to prison if he got in any further trouble but added: "I suspect, given what has happened to you, you may have other things on your mind than the commission of criminal offences in the next 12 months."