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Former soldier jailed after threatening woman with meat cleaver in Bideford

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 18, 2012

Former soldier Shaun Mudd

A former soldier has been jailed for subjecting a sleeping mother to a terrifying ordeal in which he held a meat cleaver to her throat.

Shaun Mudd, aged 23, broke into Laura Winterton's home in Bideford, and used one of her shirts as a makeshift mask before waking her at 4am.

She found his masked figure looming over the bed where she was asleep with her four-year-old daughter and she lay there terrified as he drew the cleaver across her neck.

He remained silent until she recognised him through his disguise and persuaded him to go downstairs with her where he held her at knifepoint for another two hours, Exeter Crown Court was told.

Her ordeal ended when her daughter came downstairs and Mudd fell asleep.

Mudd, of Exeter Road, Braunton, admitted affray and was jailed for 14 months by Judge Phillip Wassall.

He told him: "You wore a shirt around your lower face as camouflage and were holding a cleaver like the ones used by Chinese chefs. It was a terrifying weapon.

"You drew it across her throat and she must have been completely terrified. She recognised you and persuaded you to calm down. You were so drunk you have no recollection of it at all.

"She placated you despite being very, very scared. From the public perception, we are dealing with someone who has gone into a house with a weapon which was worse than a knife and one capable of causing fatal injuries.

"You were in such a state you cannot explain or remember your actions.

"That is a volatile and potentially very dangerous cocktail."

Mr Alex Allsop, prosecuting, said Mudd was a friend of the victim but had not been invited into her house on the Grenville Estate in Bideford, and may have broken in using a key he took from the kitchen earlier.

He said after she persuaded him to go downstairs he made unwanted sexual advances and tried to put his hand inside her clothing, but she fended him off.

He eventually went to sleep in her bed after two hours and she called some male friends who evicted him.

Mr Richard Crabb, defending, said Mudd was under the false impression he had been offered a bed for the night and went inside after a night out drinking in Barnstaple.

He said Mudd had the cleaver because he is a chef who was trained in the Army Catering Corps but forced to leave the service because of an injury.

He said his client has no idea why he went to the house and acted as he did, but is full of remorse for the terror he caused.

He said: "It must have been terrifying for the complainant. He simply cannot explain his behaviour. He simply does not know but he accepts it was totally out of order."

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