Koonawarra man Blake Stenner sentenced for threatening to chop off neighbour’s head with machete

Guilty: Blake Stenner outside Wollongong courthouse on Friday after being sentenced to community service work for threatening his neighbour with a machette.
Guilty: Blake Stenner outside Wollongong courthouse on Friday after being sentenced to community service work for threatening his neighbour with a machette.

A Koonawarra man who threatened to chop his neighbour’s head off while wielding a 50cm-long machete has avoided time behind bars due to his young age and limited criminal history.

Blake Stenner, 22, was sentenced to 325 hours of community service in Wollongong Local Court on Friday after pleaded guilty to charges of assault, intimidation and being armed with intent to commit an offence stemming from the September 2017 incident.

Court documents said there had been ongoing tension between Stenner and Mark Wilson in the nine months since the pair had become neighbours, however the animosity reached fever pitch on the night of September 30 after Mr Wilson overheard an argument between Stenner and his partner.

“You’re lucky you live with your mum and dad or I’d chop your head off,” an intoxicated Stenner yelled out towards Mr Wilson, who was sitting on his patio drinking coffee.

Stenner then threatened to set Mr Wilson’s car on fire before retreating into the house.

Mr Wilson, concerned Stenner might following through with the threat, made his way to his front yard to check on his vehicle.

At the same time, Stenner ran into Mr Wilson’s front yard brandishing a black machete at shoulder height and yelled out “I’m going to f--k you, I’m going to chop your head off”.

Mr Wilson later told police he feared for his life and he began running away from Stenner, who followed him.

Mr Wilson ran across the road the where a female witness was standing. The woman gave Mr Wilson refuge inside her vehicle while Stenner was taken back inside his own house by his partner.

Police said both Mr Wilson and the witness were visibly upset and distressed when police arrived.

Stenner was arrested and the machete seized for forensic examination.

In court on Friday, defence lawyer Graeme Morrison said Stenner “deeply regretted” his involvement in the incident, which he said likely wouldn’t have happened had he not been intoxicated at the time.

Magistrate Cate Follent said Stenner had been close to receiving a full-time jail sentence.

“Were it not for his youth, work opportunities and his prospects of rehabilitation being reasonable I would have been sentencing him to jail today,” she said.