Colin James Robinson threatened to kill a man by chopping his head off — and he told police he was going to do it first.

When they arrived, police found Robinson intoxicated with a machete in his hand and a hunting knife in the back of his pants - and had to use a Taser to detain him.

Robinson, 58, a shedhand, had phoned Cromwell police about 1am on January 17 saying he was going to kill people, Judge Michael Turner said in the Alexandra District Court yesterday.

Robinson then went to his house to get a machete and a large hunting knife, and went to his victim's house in Bannockburn. There he stood outside and yelled "I'm going to chop your . . . head off and I'm going to kill you".

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Robinson faced three charges from the incident: threatening to kill, possessing a knife without lawful authority and possessing an offensive weapon (a machete), which showed intention to commit an offence involving bodily injury, all in Cromwell, on January 17.

Robinson's counsel, Megan McCrostie, said Robinson had mental health issues and his phone call to police was a "cry for help''.

Robinson attributed his actions to an incident three years ago, when he said the victim had fired a gun on his property, and police had not laid charges, McCrostie said.

"This had been festering inside him . . . and he [Robinson] sort of just snapped. There's not really any other explanation — he was just down and out and having a particularly bad day.''

But Judge Turner said that did not reconcile with another statement from Robinson that the victim had tried to gas Robinson three years ago, and also a recent statement from the victim that he had had no contact with Robinson for more than 10 years.

Judge Turner said Robinson had been volatile and unpredictable and made the victim fearful.

He sentenced Robinson to four months' home detention.