A PUB landlady was left terrified after a knifeman tried to threaten patrons.

Police were called over the incident at The Apple Tree in the West Green area of Crawley.

Erjon Malli saw red after he allegedly heard “xenophobic” and “racist” comments directed towards him and a pal.

The 39-year-old Albanian was already drunk and high on cocaine, and returned to his home nearby to fetch an eight-inch blade.

He then went back to the pub and was seen shouting and acting aggressively.

The pub landlady was terrified and ushered him outside.

She still has nightmares about the stress of the episode.

At Lewes Crown Court Malli admitted affray and possession of a bladed article in public.

He was given a 16-month suspended sentence, largely because of the length of time which has passed since the crime was in September 2019.

Malli has since made efforts to kick his drug habits and drink problem, the court heard.

He had the “stress” of a relationship break-up and looking after a young son with “complex needs”.

Richard Cherrill, prosecuting, said: “The defendant was at the Apple Tree public house in Crawley and was seen to be brandishing a substantial knife with a blade of eight or nine inches.

“He was shouting and agitated and was asked to leave. He was behaving erratically, and she did her best to bravely distract and direct him away from the area and her son.”

Malli told police he regretted what he had done, and told them his anger was sparked by being spoken to “aggressively and xenophobically” by people in the pub.

Adam James, defending, said his client accepted he had been drinking before going to the pub.

He said his client had heard “unpleasant, racial comments” from patrons inside the pub.

Judge Christine Laing QC said: “This is a really troubling case. You deserve to go to prison.

“The landlady must have been terrified. When I read she still suffers nightmares, I don’t find it in the least bit surprising.

“You were drunk and high on drugs with a substantial knife trying to get into the pub. You had enough thinking capability to go home and fetch a knife.

“No amount of name calling or racist abuse can justify you doing that.”

Malli, of Elm Park, Stanmore, Middlesex, was told he will need to complete 240 hours of unpaid work. He must also complete 20 rehabilitation sessions and pay £300 in compensation.