A GRIEVING man who threatened his neighbours with an axe has been sentenced to a year behind bars.

Leon James Banning, 26 of Mullins Close, Oakridge, was handed the jail term when he appeared at Winchester Crown Court on Friday.

The court heard that on January 16, Banning and his girlfriend had been at home drinking Frosty Jack’s brand cider all day.

When the 26-year-old told his partner that he no longer wanted to drink, an argument broke out between the pair, which led to them “shouting all around the house.”

Prosecutor James Kellam told the court the argument escalated into the garden, where the defendant started hitting a neighbour’s fence.

When the neighbour came out, Banning picked up a nearby axe and started making threats.

Mr Kellam said: “He swung the axe in front of him and started shouting at his neighbours. The police were called, and he ran away, but did not get far before he was detained.”

The court heard that Banning had threatened his neighbour by saying “I will take your f****** head off.”

The court heard the defendant had previously been convicted for a number of offences, and this was the third time he had been caught with a bladed implement.

Defending Banning, Lisa Stewart, said this incident had happened shortly after the defendant had come out of jail and he was dealing with the death of this grandmother.

Miss Stewart said: “Once out [of jail], he had access to alcohol, and he had not been able to kick an alcohol addiction while inside.

“He was struggling to readjust to being on the outside.”

Miss Stewart added her client had acted “impulsively” by picking up the axe, which he had previously been using to break down cupboards, and he has since written a letter of apology to the neighbours.

Banning pleaded guilty to one count of being in possession of a bladed article in public and one count of using threatening or violent behaviour towards another person.

In sentencing, Judge Richard Smith QC said the events “escalated until they were out of hand.”

Judge Smith said: “You had completely lost yourself in your decision, and there in no doubt it must have been a deeply frightening experience for those you threatened.”

Banning was sentenced to 12 months in jail for both counts to run concurrently.