Man threatened to ‘burn family alive’

Four teenage girls were subjected to a frightening ordeal after a drunken man turned up at a Todmorden house late at night.

Christopher Hirst, who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder after being the victim of two assaults last year, shouted and swore at the girls before demanding money from one of them for a taxi.

Prosecutor Jonathon Sharp told Bradford Crown Court that the girls became frightened as Hirst punched a cupboard door and then picked up a kitchen knife.

Mr Sharp said Hirst started cutting himself and then told one of the girls to sniff some white powder he had put out.

Hirst was said to have told her: “Take it or I’ll burn your family alive.”

Mr Sharp described how Hirst also threw another girl onto the floor and put the knife to her throat.

He also tried to kiss two of the girls before eventually leaving the house.

Hirst, of Willow Bank, Todmorden, was arrested following the incident, which took place two days before Christmas, and he admitted that he was very drunk.

He said he had also been taking medication for depression and had suffered an accidental bang on the head earlier in the day.

Hirst said he remembered punching the door because something upset him and inviting one of the girls to cut his throat with the knife.

Mr Sharp said Hirst conceded that his behaviour that night was strange and he put it down to the bang on the head and the alcohol.

The court heard that Hirst, who admitted a charge of affray, had been a talented footballer, but his dream had come to nothing after breaking his leg.

His barrister Claire Larton said Hirst had been the victim of two serious assaults last year and had been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder.

She described his behaviour at the house as being completely out of character and said he had never sought to dispute the allegations made against him.

Miss Larton said Hirst had expressed high level of genuine remorse and he was extremely sorry for what had happened.

The court was told that Hirst was no longer binge drinking or using “recreational drugs” and was now motivated to accept help and advice.

Judge Colin Burn said he had to balance Hirst’s situation with the trauma and shock caused to the girls when he burst into the house and behaved in such a threatening and irrational way.

“All four were extremely scared, particularly when a knife was produced as well,” said Judge Burn.

“What must have been going through their minds at that time must have been unadulterated fear I would have thought.”

But the judge decided that an eight-month prison sentence could be suspended for two years in Hirst’s case.

Hirst will also be subject to supervision by the Probation Service for two years and he will have to comply with a six-month electronically-monitored curfew at his home address.

The judge said the 7pm to 7am curfew was a direct alternative to going to prison immediately.