The girlfriend of a burglar helped him to evade justice after he carried out a terrifying hammer attack on a defenceless woman, York Crown Court heard.

Stephanie Knights, now 18, was with Liam Green, 21, as he set out to “go grafting” on the night he broke into Helen Godfrey’s house, Nick Adlington, prosecuting, told the court.

She left him and he arrived later at her home with bloodstained clothing.

He was carrying a hammer dripping with blood and rucksacks with items stolen from Ms Godfrey’s house.

While police hunted him, Knights washed the clothes and disposed of the baby wipes Green had used to clean the hammer.

Police later found some of the stolen property at her home in Rowntree Avenue, Clifton.

She told them she had been scared of Green and his friends.

Her barrister, Chloe Fairley, said: “She is someone who has been targeted by such as Liam Green who see her as an easy target, and she is effectively in the grip of that.

“She sees him as someone who wants her and wants to spend time with her.”

Green, formerly of Fulford, was jailed last month for 11 years for aggravated burglary and another offence committed in County Durham.

Knights admitted assisting an offender in July last year when she was 17.

The Recorder of York, Judge Stephen Ashurst, suspended a 12-month prison sentence for two years because she had been put under pressure by Green, she had been physically abused as a child, she had co-operated with the police after they found the rucksacks and she had pleaded guilty.

She must do two years’ supervision, attend a women’s community project and she must carry out 100 hours of unpaid work.

Judge Ashurst said: “Prison is not the right place for you.”

She had been carrying out Green’s instructions when she washed his clothing.

But he warned her she had not “got away” with her crime.

He ordered her to return to appear before him in three months’ time so that he could assess how she was carrying out the community part of her sentence.

Mr Adlington said that three days after the burglary, Knights called police to her house because she thought someone was “creeping around” it. It was then that they found the rucksacks.