A roofer who threatened to "murder" a neighbour in a row about loud music should be given leeway because his Irish heritage meant he did not intend it literally, his lawyer has claimed.

Stephen Hunter, 46, became involved in a heated row with an off-duty police officer who lived nearby after being asked to turn down the volume.

Norwich Magistrates’ Court was told he was confronted by the officer who said his children couldn’t get to sleep because of the noise, at which point he threatened to stab him.

Appearing at a window, Hunter warned: “There’ll be a murder when I come down there.”

READ MORE: Man threatened to shoot neighbour from bedroom window

Lisa Robinson, representing Hunter, told the court: “He is part Irish and they not do use the word murder in the context that it is always taken. Despite that, he knows that his behaviour on this occasion was not acceptable.”

Nicola Lamb, prosecuting, said at the time the self-employed roofer had been on licence after being released from prison.

Eastern Daily Press: Stephen Hunter leaving Norwich Magistrates' Court after admitted threatening behaviourStephen Hunter leaving Norwich Magistrates' Court after admitted threatening behaviour (Image: Newsquest)

In a statement read in court, his victim said he was now “constantly worried about protecting himself”.

He said he and his family had been left “nervous about answering the door and suspicious of anyone knocking”.

“I constantly have to have my guard up in a place where I should feel at home,” he added. 

Hunter, of Fishers Close in Costessey, pleaded guilty to threatening behaviour.

In mitigation, Ms Robinson said he had been living at the block of flats for two years but that his neighbour had recently moved in. 

READ MORE: Norwich neighbour dispute sees woman threatened with jail

She said another neighbour had described that when the off-duty police officer had told him to turn it down Hunter had replied “why don’t you come upstairs and talk face to face instead of shouting at me”.

Eastern Daily Press: The dispute centred on loud music at flats on Fishers Close in CostesseyThe dispute centred on loud music at flats on Fishers Close in Costessey (Image: Google)

"Mr Hunter had been playing music and had become involved in an altercation with a neighbour and he did not handle it properly,” said Ms Robinson.

Magistrates imposed a 12-month community order, including 160 hours unpaid work and 25 rehabilitation days, but refused an application for a restraining order.