A violent stalker from Burnley who launched a terror campaign against his ex-partner - who he went out with for just two weeks four years ago - has been jailed for five years after raiding her home and snatching her dog.
John Lewis (42) had only been out of prison for six days, a term imposed for harassing Julie Lewis and threatening to kill her, when he struck at her Briercliffe Road home.
Lewis, who has also served time for stabbing the victim, pinched jewellery and a plastic bag with two knives in, which he alleged was by the door.
He also stole the family’s much-loved pet, along with its food, intending to cause as much hurt as possible to Ms Lewis and others who loved the dog.
Burnley Crown Court was told when the victim’s son saw the drunk defendant with the animal and approached him, Lewis made threats, telling the teenager: “You’re lucky I haven’t cut with a knife from here to here”, while gesturing with his finger down his face.
He continued: “Tell your mum if she wants the dog back to ring me. If you get the police, I’ll burn your house down.”
Lewis, who used to be known as John O’Brien, but has changed his name, had admitted burglary, breaching a restraining order and possessing a bladed article on October 8th.
The current restraining order, banning the defendant from going within 100 metres of the victim’s home, was extended and Judge Simon Newell imposed a new 10-year order.
The defendant, of Arran Street, Burnley, listened to his case over video link from prison, where he has been remanded in custody.
The hearing was told Lewis had been released from jail on October 2nd. He was back in court on October 5th for harassment and was given a community order with a tagged curfew.
Within three days, he had sneaked into the victim’s home, claiming he got in through the unlocked front door, while Ms Lewis said she left a window open.
The defendant had a record for burglary in the 1990s and in the 2000s. In 2004, he served seven-and-half years inside for assault with intent to rob, having an imitation firearm with intent to commit an offence and allegations of burglary which he had asked to be considered.
The court heard that in 2011, Lewis was back behind bars, this time for 16 months, with 44 months extended licence, for wounding, after he stabbed Ms Lewis during their short relationship.
He was freed in January 2012, went on to receive a two year prison term for harassment and threats to kill the victim and was let out on October 2nd.
Richard Taylor (defending) saying the defendant couldn’t possibly have climbed into Ms Lewis’s house through a window. He went through the front door, picked up a bag and didn’t know the knives were in it.
The solicitor said the defendant didn’t take any electrical items, to which the judge responded: “You tend to be more affectionate about your rings or a brooch than you tend to be towards your microwave.”
Mr Taylor said Lewis was arrested by police walking away from the premises and the items were recovered, including the dog. The solicitor continued: “The police say the dog was simply running along at his heel.”
Mr Taylor continued: “I concede there has to be some element of planning, or he wouldn’t have gone to the house. His previous convictions will always come back to haunt him.
“His family are decent people. They don’t trouble the courts, there’s only him. He says to me, quite emotionally, he’s upset with letting his family down, who stand by him, undeservedly as he puts it, while he continues to commit offences.
“He’s finally realised that alcohol is his considerable downfall. He may emerge from this a wiser and a sober man.”
Sentencing, Judge Newell said Lewis had had a considerable problem with alcohol and told him: “I appreciate you have now determined that this relationship is over and you will no longer have any contact with this woman.
“I have to make sure and reinforce that that does not happen, namely that you do not have any further contact with this woman.
“It’s clear and obvious the burglary was not committed for commercial reasons, but for personal reasons.
“It seems to me there are continuations to the campaign of harassment that has taken place in the past and the very recent past, of threats to kill, violence, revenge and terrorism.”
Judge Newell said he was sceptical about the bag being at the house with the knives already in, but he did not intend to have a trial over the facts.
He continued: “This wasn’t a commercial burglary but was to cause and intended to cause harm, upset and distress to the occupants of the house and particularly this former partner.”