A THUG threatened to burn down the houses of three innocent victims after launching a brick at one of them while he laid on the floor.

Daniel Thirkettle pleaded guilty to actual bodily harm, two counts of assault by wounding and a charge of dangerous driving and appeared before Burnley Crown Court.

The 34-year-old who has a string of violent offences on his record, including time spent in jail for assault in 2017, was handed a suspended sentence and told he had only avoided jail by the 'slimmest of margins'.

The court heard how on March 4, Thirkettle, of Bentham Close, Blackburn, had tried to get into the car park of Feniscowles Sport and Social Club as Michael Bleasdale, the trustee of the club, was trying to lock up at around 6.20pm.

Thirkettle made his way to Mr Bleasdale's car to see if he could access the keys and move the vehicle.

On discovering the keys were not in the ignition, he began shouting abuse at Mr Bleasdale, pushed him and said 'if you don't move the car I will burn it'.

Prosecuting, Mercedeh Jabbari told the court how a runner, Marco Pacelli, passing by witnessed Thirkettle's actions and stopped.

Ms Jabbari said: "The defendant saw Mr Pacelli and said 'what are you doing runner? Are you the police?'

"The defendant then grabbed Mr Pacelli by the neck and pulled him to the floor and kept hold of his neck as Mr Pacelli struggled to break free.

"At the same time John Smalley was driving by and stopped his car and went over to assist Mr Pacelli.

"The two men attempted to restrain Thirkettle but he managed to push Mr Smalley and he fell, hitting his head on some building bricks in a driveway.

"The defendant then kicked Mr Smalley to the head."

The court heard how Mr Pacelli saw the defendant pick up one of the bricks and thought he was going to hit him, but instead he turned and threw the brick at Mr Smalley who was still on the floor.

Ms Jabbari went on: "The defendant then got into his car and drove off and the police were called.

"However he returned just minutes later and shouted at the three men, 'I can guarantee your houses will be burnt down tonight if you tell the police'."

Out of luck, an officer responding to the call saw Thirkettle drive past him as he approached the social club and turned his vehicle around to follow him.

This resulted in a chase for almost two miles, down Livesey Branch Road, with Thirkettle reaching speeds of more than 60mph, at times driving on the wrong side of the road and even going round a roundabout the wrong way.

The officer lost the defendant but his vehicle was later found abandoned in Moorgate Street.

Thirkettle was arrested on March 8 and made no comment during his interview.

Defending Thirkettle, Thomas Worsfold said his client had managed to stay out of trouble since his last spell in prison in 2017, and was subject to a community order which he was complying with and appeared to be making progress.

He said he had a steady job and a young family, and mitigated for a suspended sentence, highlighting the issue of rehabilitation, which would be better accessed on the outside rather than falling prey to becoming lost in the prison system.

Recorder Geoffrey Lowe said: "Your temper and lack of self control and anger management is at the heart of you committing these offences.

"To address the underlying conditions would be serving the public to ensure in the future this type of behaviour is not repeated.

"By the slimmest of margins, and you clearly deserve a custodial sentence, I am going to suspend the sentence for two years."

Thirkettle was given 21 months in prison suspended for two years, told to enrol on a therapy group work programme, ordered to complete 30 days of rehabilitation activity and given a five year restraining order against his victims.

For the driving offence, he was disqualified for 12 months and fined £450.