A MAN held a meat cleaver to his terrified partner's face and threatened to take her hostage, a court has heard.

Dean Wallbank struck Katie McColl in the face and punched her in the head after they began arguing while staying overnight at a friend's home on June 13 after a night out.

When she fled and hid behind a nearby refuse bin Wallbank found her and dragged her back.

He also rang the police giving a false name and address saying he had assaulted his girlfriend. "He said the police had ten minutes to arrive before he would kill her," said Ken Grant, prosecuting.

Officers arrived at the premises in Common Lane, Tyldesley, and could hear a woman screaming, 'get him off me, I'm going to die."

Police found the couple in the kitchen with Wallbank pinning her between his legs with his left arm around her neck in a headlock and with a metal meat cleaver with an eight inch blade in his other hand.

He held this to the side of her face and said, 'back off, I'm taking her hostage'. The officers engaged him in conversation and persuaded him to put the weapon down and then managed to detain him. When searched he had a small amount of cannabis on him, said Mr Grant.

Wallbank, aged 26, pleaded guilty at Liverpool Crown Court to making threats to kill. Charges of false imprisonment and assault causing actual bodily harm were dropped.

He was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment suspended for two years and placed under supervision for two years today, Monday.

He was also ordered to attend a probation run domestic violence programme and the judge imposed a three month electronically monitored curfew.

Judge Denis Watson, QC, said that Wallbank had intended to terrify the victim and had done so. "The facts of the offence are horrific," he said.

He told him that the offence was so serious that it passed the custody threshold but he took into account his retreat and willingness to change and so suspended the sentence.

Hugh Barton, defending, said that Wallbank, of Shakerley Road, Tyldesley, who had never received a jail sentence, has spent the equivalent of five months in custody on remand.

He regretted his behaviour and Ms MColl, the mother of his young son, was present in the public gallery.

“The offence happened after he had descended into a deep depression following losing his job after a freak accident caused him serious leg injuries,” said Mr Barton.

“He had to return to his mum's home after losing his employment and had turned to drink and cannabis as self-medication.

“He was remorseful for the offence about which he has little recollection. He is an industrious young man and plans to go to university and set up his own business.”