A drunk was caught red-handed with a knife less than 24 hours after asking if she was ‘scared’.

Sentencing Nikoloas Vavoulas on Friday, Judge Ian Pringle QC said the knifeman was right to ‘hang his head’ in the dock as details of his crimes were read out.

Oxford Crown Court heard the 31-year-old rang his mum on February 13 and spoke to her about money.

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Although she was supportive of her son, Vavoulas became angry with his mother. He tried to call back and, when she failed to answer, he bombarded her with a further 29 calls.

He peppered her with threatening texts, beginning with ‘are you scared’ and culminating with messages summarised by the judge as ‘extremely threatening’.

The following day, Valentine’s Day, he set off for his mum’s house in Wallingford with a knife with him.

Before he could reach the house he was intercepted by the police in Brightwell-cum-Sotwell.

Prosecutor Cathy Olliver said the victim was ‘very alarmed’ by the threats her son had made. She had been warned by the police to lock her doors and windows as it was feared he ‘might be on his way to her house armed with a knife’.

Mitigating, Emma Hornby described her client as a complex character with mental health issues. He had turned to alcohol and drugs to cope with a ‘difficult home life’.

She said Vavoulas was remorseful and his arrest had been the ‘wake up call he needed’. He was now working with addiction charity Turning Point.

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Her client remained in contact with his family. “Nobody wants Mr Vavoulas to go to prison. They all just want him to get the help he needs,” she said.

Vavoulas, of Crowmarsh Gifford, near Wallingford, pleaded guilty to harassment and possession of a bladed article.

Judge Pringle sentenced him to 10 months’ imprisonment suspended for two years with 100 hours of unpaid work, a nine month alcohol treatment requirement and 15 rehabilitation activity requirement days.

Herald Series: Judge Ian Pringle QCJudge Ian Pringle QC

Summarising the threatening messages he sent, the judge told Vavoulas: “Well you hang your head because that sort of behaviour is utterly disgraceful. Worse than that, the next morning you armed yourself with a knife with the intention of going to visit your mother.

“I have no doubt whatsoever these offences are so serious they pass the custody threshold.”

Concluding his sentencing remarks, the judge said: “You are 31 years of age. This is the first time you’ve appeared for a serious offence before a crown court. Make sure it is the last.”

A restraining order prevents Vavoulas from going to his mum’s home for five years.

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