A DRUNK knifeman who held a blade to the throat of a complete stranger as she walked past his house left her so frightened she could not face going out.
Lee Paget also shouted racist abuse at a neighbour who tried to stop him making a late night disturbance in the centre of Ilfracombe.
The kitchen porter had been binge drinking after working a double shift at a restaurant in the town before he armed himself with a vegetable knife, Exeter Crown Court was told. He used it to terrify Kristi Goodman as she was walking home alone late at night from the bar where she worked.
She was left so frightened she had to give up her job because she could not face going anywhere near the spot where the attack took place. She stayed inside for weeks because she was too scared to go out.
Paget, 32, of High Street, Ilfracombe, admitted racially aggravated harassment, having a knife in a public place, and assault.
He was jailed for nine months, suspended for a year, ordered to do 120 hours unpaid work and pay a total of £200 compensation to his two victims.
Judge John Neligan told him: "You used inexcusable racialist language and armed yourself with a kitchen knife, which you held to the throat of Miss Goodman, someone who you did not know.
"It caused her to be petrified, and it is small wonder that in her victim impact statement she speaks of the profound effect it has had upon her.
"She has been unable to go out for a long time, has had to give up her job, and suffered a great deal; and all that because you acted impulsively without giving any thought to the consequences or harm you may cause.
"The only conceivable explanation for you behaving in this way is that you had far too much to drink, but drunkenness is no excuse for breaking the law."
David Bowen, for the prosecution, said the incident started at 12.40am when Paget had been drinking and was causing a disturbance in the street outside his home. Neighbour Lewis Matthews opened his window and shouted for him to be quiet and he responded with obscene racist abuse including the repeated use of the N-word.
Mr Bowen said the incident left the victim feeling offended and vulnerable and in fear of being attacked.
Paget went home briefly but returned to the street 20 minutes later when an ambulance was called to an unconnected incident and he went to intervene.
He became agitated and was seen swearing at his mobile phone before he approached Miss Goodman, who happened to be walking past on her way home.
Mr Bowen said: "She was a complete stranger but he put the knife to her throat. She was petrified and he eventually dropped the knife."
She was so frightened she did not leave her flat for a week and gave up her job because it was close to the scene of the attack.
Richard Crabb, for the defence, said Paget had not drunk for four years before the incident and has not drunk in the six months since.
He said Paget is a father of three children who would lose his accommodation and the chance to see them if sent to jail.