Evening Telegraph

Man ‘cracked’ at split from girlfriend and turned up to Dundee flat with hammer

John Birtles hit a front door in Paton's Lane with a hammer.

Two female students were subjected to a terrifying ordeal when a man attacked their front door with a hammer.

John Birtles, 21, of Strathmartine Road, told police he had gone to their house looking for his ex-partner as she had lived there.

The women looked out and saw Birtles, who was unknown to them, striking the door with the hammer and called 999, Dundee Sheriff Court heard.

Fiscal depute Kirsten Letford told the court the two students were inside the property at around 7.30pm when they both heard several loud bangs.

“They observed the accused and locked themselves in a room and called 999,” she said.

Mrs Letford said when he was cautioned by the officers on suspicion of attempted theft by housebreaking, Birtles replied: “It wasn’t my intention to steal, my ex-partner lives there.”

Paton’s Lane

Solicitor Ross Bennett said Birtles and his ex-partner used to live there and they had split up months before.

He said the accused – a third-year student at Dundee University – had difficulty in coming to terms with the fact their relationship was over.

He said Birtles was assessed as being sane and fit to plead, although he was on the autistic spectrum and had difficulty forming and keeping relationships.

“Something just cracked,” he said.

Birtles admitted that on August 19, at a flat in Paton’s Lane, he wilfully and recklessly damaged a door by repeatedly hitting it with a hammer.

Sheriff George Way told Mr Bennett he was struggling to see why, if his client was just trying to trace his partner, he would strike the door with a hammer.

He said: “In fairness to your client, I would like to see if he requires any assistance.”

He deferred sentence on Birtles until September 17 and granted him bail pending a criminal justice social work report.