Man took knife to stab judge after his benefits were stopped

A mental health patient took a knife to a benefits tribunal so he could stab a judge at the hearing after his payments were stopped.

Kenneth Nicholson said he planned to carry out the attack so he could get locked up.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the 49-year-old confessed he was armed when he met his psychiatric nurse outside South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court in South Shields just before the hearing last April.

Prosecutor Jolyon Perks told the court:

“On the day of the tribunal, judges became aware of the fact there had been prior notification from the community psychiatric nurse that this defendant harboured an intention to take a knife to the tribunal.

 “He wished, as he was later to explain, to threaten or stab one of the tribunal judges.”

The court heard that one of the judging panel has since been left living in fear.

Mr Perks added;

“She says she was extremely frightened, worried that the defendant might be in a position to find out where she lives. She has an ongoing fear for her safety and that of her family.”

> I wonder how she felt before, making decisions that could drive people to desperate measures ? Perhaps she has a better understanding of the consequences her actions might have.

The court heard Nicholson had been receiving benefit payments after an incident at work almost 20 years ago resulted in mental health problems.

 

His payments were stopped after a new doctor concluded his mental state may not be linked to the industrial accident.

His case had been listed for an appeal hearing against the decision to stop the benefits, which was ultimately successful.

Nicholson, of no fixed address, admitted possession of a knife.

Recorder Andrew Baker told him:

“You had formed an intention, deluded and resulting from your mental condition, to use the knife on a member of the tribunal if you had the chance to do so.

“The thought process being it would get you locked up and you might be in a position to get legal representation.

“The fact that you were prepared to at least approach a court room of this country with an intention to do harm with a bladed weapon makes this a particularly serious case.”

The judge gave Nicholson a 20-month jail sentence suspended for 18 months, with mental health treatment requirements.

He was warned by the judge:

“You are a risk that can be managed in the community but I hope you understand you must treat this as a, literally, once in a lifetime opportunity for you.”

Graeme Cook, defending, said Nicholson gave the weapon to his health worker as soon as he was asked.

Mr Cook said:

“He would not have got through the security anyway, but he handed it over straight away.”

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