A MAN who verbally abused his ex girlfriend and threatened to burn down her home has avoided prison by the slimmest of margins.

Preston Crown Court heard how James Steven Thomas Smith was prohibited from contacting his victim by an indefinite restraining order imposed in May 2017 but the pair began communicating on Christmas Day last year.

Prosecuting, David Clarke said arrangements were made between them that they would meet at a house party at a friend of 31-year-old Smith’s.

In a statement to the police, the victim accepted that she drank a lot of alcohol and has no recollection of how she got back home to the downstairs flat in Blackburn she had moved to because of previous domestic violence at the hands of Smith.

Mr Clarke said: “So it came to be that around 5.30 in the morning on December 26 the victim says she was woken up by the defendant who was shouting at her and accusing her of having slept with hundreds of men.

“After further exchanges she shouted at him to leave and she managed to lock him out of the address and phoned 999. The defendant continued, however, to bang on the door, demanding that he be allowed in.

“When the police arrived the victim realised her passport was ripped up, her fake Louis Vuitton bag was damaged and her Apple MacBook was damaged, which she valued at around £700.”

The court heard the police left just before lunchtime without having seen Smith.

The victim received a voice message from the defendant at 11.44am in which he was screaming at her and questioning her morality.

She received a second call during which Smith threatened to release ‘revenge porn’ of her.

Mr Clarke said: “He said he was coming round, he was going to put her windows through and burn her house down.

“She relates that there were also four further missed calls which she didn’t answer.

“She also relates that the defendant sent her a number of abusive text messages in the course of which the defendant called her a dirty little prostitute.

“She called the police again. She said she was scared for her own safety and confirmed the existence of the ongoing restraining order.”

When police went to Smith’s property in Fielding Lane, Oswaldtwistle, at 1.20pm there was no answer at the door, but officers saw the lights were on and there was a kitchen knife on the living room floor.

Eventually officers forced their way into the property and arrested Smith inside.

In his police interview, Smith admitted being with the victim at the house party and said she had fallen in the road on the way back to her flat because she was so drunk.

He also conceded damaging the laptop computer and sending text messages, said he wanted nothing more to do with the victim but denied threatening to burn her house down.

Smith, who has 20 convictions for 31 offences, pleaded guilty to breaching a restraining order, sending malicious communication and criminal damage.

Defending, Lucy Wright said her client accepted that his latest offending was aggravated by his poor previous record and he expressed full remorse for his actions towards the victim.

Sentencing Smith to 10 months imprisonment, but suspending it for two years, Judge David Potter said: “You have escaped custody by the slimmest of margins.”

Smith must also attend the building better relationships programme, undertake 60 rehabilitation activity requirement days, complete 100 hours of unpaid work and pay his victim £150 compensation.