A STALKER from Winsford who threatened to smash up his estranged wife’s house with an axe, then kill her, has avoided jail.

Kevin Martin, of High Street, had been separated from his wife of 20 years, Alison, for nearly a decade but was living at her house in 2023 as the couple tried to patch things up.

She told police she asked the 58-year-old to move out on July 5, but he refused, adding if she tried to make him, he would ‘go through her house with an axe, then kill her’.

Police made him leave and told him not to go within 100 metres of her, but he ignored them.

He then started a campaign of harassment and stalking which lasted until November, which Alison said ‘reduced her to a nervous wreck’.

He walked past her house at all hours flicking cigarette butts into her garden, dumped rubbish over her wall, glare at her through the window, and on one occasion, made a throat cutting gesture with his finger.

She was so disturbed she spent money on extra security, including new locks, CCTV, a Ring camera, and a burglar alarm.  

In September, she started noticing him on her way to and from work, at places like traffic lights, slip roads, and traffic islands, just hanging around.  

Northwich Guardian: Martin was supposed be patching things up with his wife when the harassment began in July 2023Martin was supposed be patching things up with his wife when the harassment began in July 2023 (Image: Supplied)

By November, she couldn’t take it anymore and called the police again, who charged him with two counts of stalking.

He pleaded guilty to both at Chester Magistrates’ Court on November 22, and was remanded in custody before sentencing at Chester Crown Court.

At the sentence hearing on Tuesday, March 12, Alison read out a victim impact statement.

She said she ‘felt trapped’ and had been ‘left with no life’, adding she sometimes wished she’d ‘just go to sleep and never wake up’.

She said time apart made her realise the extent of his abuse. Once, when she refused to iron his clothes before a ‘lads holiday’ in Spain, he spent £460 out of their household budget on new ones.

He’d demanded £10,000 from her to leave her house in July, she told the court, but she didn’t have it, so agreed to set up him up in a flat instead, which she could do on credit.

He even demanded a 55-inch flat screen TV as part of the deal, but she ended up getting a 50-inch one, as it was all she could afford.

Northwich Guardian: Martin would linger at places, like traffic lights, where he knew his wife would have to stop on her way to workMartin would linger at places, like traffic lights, where he knew his wife would have to stop on her way to work (Image: Supplied)

Her self-esteem has been ‘seriously damaged’, she said, and is now ‘terrified’ when her phone isn’t in her pocket

She’s since had bailiffs knocking at her door for him, adding she ‘just doesn’t know what’s coming next’.

Defending, Eve Salter said Martin accepted what he did was wrong and was eager to engage with the Probation Service.

He has a full-time job and accommodation to go to, she said, adding: “Sitting around in prison will do nothing to assist his rehabilitation.”

Judge Patrick Thompson said sentencing guidelines meant the maximum he could give would see Martin back on the street ‘in weeks’, once time on remand had been deducted.  

Given that, he said the best way to protect the victim was a suspended sentence, with a rehabilitation order attached, as well as a lifetime restraining order.

He said: “That way, if you go near her again, you won’t be facing a few months in prison. You’ll be facing up to five years.”  

Judge Thompson sentenced Martin to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years.

He must also complete 20 rehabilitation activity requirement days and complete 200 hours unpaid work.

The judge added: “You obviously have a problem with authority and seem to believe the law doesn’t apply to you.

“For a mature man to behave like this is, frankly, beyond belief.

“While your conduct was incredibly juvenile, and making throat slitting gestures utterly pathetic, for your victim, it was terrifying.”

“I have only suspended your sentence because, on balance, it seems the best way to protect her from you."