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Axe-wielding clown mask prankster to be sentenced

An axe-wielding teenage prankster dressed as a clown who terrified a pregnant woman so much that she threw a brick at him will be sentenced today.

Michael March, 18, joined the so-called "killer clown" craze for pranking people and banged his axe on the floor to scare a couple walking past him in South Shields at 9.10pm the night before Halloween last year.

Last month he admitted possession of a bladed article at a hearing at South Tyneside Magistrates' Court and he will be sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court, sitting at Moot Hall.

At the previous hearing, Paul Anderson, prosecuting, said March waited for the couple in the car park of the Sand Dancer pub in Sea Road.

He said the offence was carried out at a time when the clown craze was sweeping the nation.

The woman who March scared was 22 weeks pregnant at the time, magistrates heard.

Mr Anderson said she called police and told them "she had been chased by a male wearing a clown mask, brandishing an axe".

Two youths ran off and were traced on CCTV before March, then aged 17, was arrested.

He was found to be still in possession of the axe and had the mask in his backpack.

March told police: "I'm sorry, I was not going to hurt her."

Mr Anderson said March, from Hopedene, Leam Lane, Gateshead, told police that "he had this axe and he was banging it on the floor to scare people".

Mr Anderson said: "It had the desired effect because she picked up a brick and threw it at him.

"He tried to explain it was a prank and ran off in something of a panic.

"He said it was all meant to be a joke that went badly wrong."

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