A MAN who went on a rampage with a 4ft axe, causing £48,000 of damage to houses and cars, has been jailed for four-and-a-half years.

Paul Hyde, 46, of no fixed address, admitted threatening his ex-girlfriend, Alison Hall, and her neighbour Pauline Hilton with the axe after a row about a Valentine’s Day card.

Hyde and Miss Hall had had a whirlwind romance, but when they broke up, a day of heated text message exchanges between the pair followed.

Hyde then went round to her house in Patricia Gardens, South Green, Billericay, on February 15 to collect his belongings, leading to the violent rampage.

Sentencing him at Basildon Crown Court yesterday, Judge David Owen-Jones said: “You simply lost it. You went on a rampage with the axe and threatened lots of your neighbours.

“Everyone involved in this terrible incident has been psychologically affected and it has devastated a neighbourhood.

“You threatened to kill your ex-partner and she must have been terrified out of her wits.

“You didn’t stop and went from house to house threatening neighbours with the axe – what you did was simply unbelievable.”

When Hyde arrived at the house, a heated argument started and Hyde started swallowing paracetamols as he drank whisky.

He picked up an axe and started smashing up Miss Hall’s home. He also threatened to kill her and tried strangling her as she tried to escape.

Hyde then turned on the gas in the kitchen and threatened to smash up the cooker, potentially causing an explosion.

After Miss Hall escaped, he went next door and smashed his way into the house of Mrs Hilton, an innocent neighbour, where he held the axe to her throat and hit her across the face.

He also smashed up several cars and other homes in the street. Police were called several times and Hyde was only arrested when armed officers shot him with rubber bullets.

Judge Owen-Jones read out a statement from Miss Hall, who said her life had been ruined by the attack – she lost all her belongings and had been made homeless.

Hyde, who showed no emotion as he was sentenced, was told he would serve half his sentence in prison and half on licence.

A restraining order was also passed banning Hyde from Patricia Gardens or making contact with any of the victims.