A DRUNKEN man who attacked a police van with an axe after officers were called to a domestic dispute has been told to expect a long jail sentence.

Christopher Harper left his house in Kingsteignton carrying the axe and advanced towards the terrified policeman as he pulled up outside his home.

The hospital worker attacked the driver’s door before smashing the windscreen as the policeman fled and called for assistance. The axe came within inches of the sergeant’s neck.

The police were called after an incident involving Harper’s partner, who had endured violence including hair grabbing and had received abusive messages over the preceding five weeks.

She had already left the house in Avery Hill before police went to speak to Harper about the allegations. They later found a hammer and a sword inside.

Harper, aged 49, of Avery Hill, Kingsteignton, pleaded guilty to attempting to wound police sergeant Mark Smith with intent to cause him grievous bodily harm at the start of what had been due to be a trial at Exeter Crown Court.

He also admitted harassing his former partner between August 1 and September 11 last year, when he was arrested. A more serious charge of controlling and coercive behaviour was dropped.

He has previously admitted affray, damaging a police car and three counts of possessing bladed articles or offensive weapons in Avery Hill on September 11.

He was remanded in custody by Judge Stephen Climie, who ordered a probation pre-sentence report and told him: ‘Obviously, there is now no need for a trial with a jury, having regard to your guilty pleas. You will remain in prison between now and your sentence, and possibly beyond that.

‘It will depend on the probation report and what I hear of the facts of the offences and the impact on the victims and on mitigation. 

‘In all likelihood there will be a significant sentence of imprisonment and you need to prepare yourself for that.”

The judge said that in the light of Harper’s lack of previous conviction, he did not anticipate that an assessment of dangerousness would be necessary and noted that a dependence on alcohol formed the background to the offences.

Miss Kelly Scrivener, prosecuting, said Harper’s pleas are acceptable and the victims will be asked if they wish to update their impact statements.

Mr Adrian Chaplin, defending, said Harper had not acquired the weapon with the intention of using them either on his partner or as he did. He said he formed the intent to attack the police car moments before he did so.

Harper is due to be sentenced on Thursday May 11.