Flomo Klowns
The creepy 'killer clown' craze swept through parts of the UK last year Facebook / Flomo Klowns / WKRG.com

An axe-wielding teenager who dressed as a "killer clown" and terrified a pregnant woman has been jailed for six months.

Michael March, 18, is believed to be the first person imprisoned in the UK following the craze last year that saw pranksters dress up as menacing clowns to scare members of the public.

A court heard how the teenager targeted a couple the night before Halloween by banging a foot-long axe on the ground as they were walking in South Shields just after 9pm.

The terrified woman, who was 22 weeks pregnant, threw a brick at March believing he was about to attacker her, before he eventually ran off.

"Brandishing an axe and threatening people in the street is serious whatever the context," Judge Jamie Hill QC told March as he was given a six-month jail sentence at Newcastle Crown Court on Wednesday (8 February).

A previous hearing saw prosecutor Paul Anderson tell the court how March had waited for the couple in the car park of the Sand Dancer pub in Sea Road.

He said the woman had called the police after the incident, telling officers "she had been chased by a male wearing a clown mask, brandishing an axe".

March, then aged 17, was arrested after being traced on CCTV and found in possession of an axe and clown mask.

The court heard how the teenager, of Leam Lane, Gateshead told police it was a "prank" and a "joke that went badly wrong", adding: "I'm sorry, I was not going to hurt her."

March, who lived with his grandparents, had previously admitted possession of a bladed article.

The "killer crown" craze, which began in the US before spreading to Britain, led to a surge in calls to police forces across the country from people reporting threatening behaviour from pranksters dressing as clowns.

One 17-year-old boy, Owen Russell, from Dinnington, South Yorkshire, needed stitches after being attacked by a man in a clown mask while walking down an alley in October.

The same month, another boy, aged 10, was threatened by a clown carrying a hammer who jumped out a bush in Plymouth, while an 11-year-old girl was chased by an axe-wielding man dressed as a clown in Workington, Cumbria.

At the height of the craze, Thames Valley Police said it received 14 reports relating to people dressing up as "killer clowns" in just 24 hours.