A jealous ex pledged to torch his former partner, poison her horses and take their child after the couple split.

Daniel O’Kelly, 34, called his ex 700 times over a three week period last September. He also lurked outside her Swindon home in his van and was spotted at her daughter’s school.

It culminated on September 23, when he warned the woman he was going to come round to her house and take their son. He told her: “I’m going to go and poison your horses.”

But O’Kelly walked from court with a suspended sentence order after Judge Peter Crabtree heard he was deemed by the probation service to be a medium risk, was keen to do the domestic violence rehabilitation programme and could be managed in the community.

Sentencing the man to a year’s imprisonment suspended for two years, the judge said: “This is a serious offence, involving sustained harassment over three weeks that caused real distress and fear.”

Prosecutor Mark Ashley told Swindon Crown Court O’Kelly had split from his girlfriend of 18 months in April 2019.

By August and September he had become obsessed with the idea that she had a new partner, although she did not.

He told her he would “f***ing set fire to both of you and that’s a f***ing promise”.

On September 3, her camera-enabled doorbell snapped him trying to rip the device from the front door without success. Nine days later, he was seen hanging around outside her daughter’s school.

A week on, he told her he said: “I swear to God, I’m going to come round to your house and take him. How am I going to get into your house? I’m going to kick the f***ing door down.” The next day he was said to have been outside her home in a van.

Mr Ashley said O’Kelly had made 700 calls, which she had ignored. Some calls had been recorded by the woman.

His threats to “poison her horses” on September 23 had left her very frightened, the barrister said.

In a victim personal statement, the woman said the defendant’s behaviour had “stripped me of my emotions”. She had fled the house: “I felt I had to go away from the house that night with my children. I believed he would carry out the threat.”

The court heard O’Kelly had committed offences in similar circumstances in 2015. He had been convicted of harassment and malicious communications in that year.

O’Kelly, of Wylam, Northumberland, pleaded guilty at the magistrates’ court to harassment.

Emma Handslip, defending, said her client had moved from Wiltshire to the north of England. He acknowledged he had trouble dealing with break-ups and realised he needed to complete the Building Better Relationships course with the probation service.

“It is quite clear that whenever he is struggling with the breakdown of a relationship he has reverted to drinking significantly and taking drugs. He has addressed all of those. He has taken himself away and removed himself,” she said.

He was supported by his mother, had accommodation and was in work.

Judge Crabtree said O’Kelly would need to complete the Building Better Relationships course and 20 rehabilitation activity days as part of his suspended sentence. Completing the course would be in his interest and in the interest of current, future and former partners with whom he had children, he said.

A restraining order prevents O’Kelly from contacting his victim for five years.