A student who donned a ‘killer clown’ mask and used an axe to threaten a pregnant woman in South Tyneside is facing jail.
Michael March’s victim was so distressed that she picked up a brick to defend herself when she saw him coming towards her in Sea Road, South Shields, South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court heard.
Magistrates were told March played what he later called a prank on his victim on October 30 and have sent the case to Newcastle Crown Court for sentence because their powers are insufficient.
Paul Anderson, prosecuting, told the court the terrifying incident happened at a time when there was a worrying spate of this kind of incident.
He said: “Many were in the run-up to Halloween, which this one was.
“The idea seemed to be to jump out and frighten a passer-by.”
He added: “This is one of those cases, except this killer clown was also armed with an axe.”
He said the police received a telephone report of a couple being threatened.
Mr Anderson said: “The woman was 22 weeks pregnant. She said the man was wearing a clown mask and brandishing an axe.
“It was a frightening experience, so much so that she picked up a house brick and told the clown she would use it he didn’t stop.
“The clown banged the axe on the ground before running off with another lad in the direction of the Sand Dancer pub.
“Police used CCTV to find the pair.
“The clown mask was still in March’s backpack.”
March, 18, of Hopedene, Leam Lane, Gateshead, admitted possessing an offensive weapon.
Charlton Carr, defending, said: “It is sad to see a young man with no previous convictions acquire a criminal record of any sort, let alone one for a serious offence of violence.
“In all senses, this prank has been a disaster.
“But it was only a prank, as Mr March said in his police interview he had no intention to harm anyone.
“The court will be guided by the sentencing guidelines, but at the lowest level this offence carries a community order.”
The bench ruled their sentencing powers of six months are insufficient and sent the case to Newcastle Crown Court to be dealt with.
March was bailed to attend court on a date to be fixed in the week beginning December 19.