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.
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.”
An angry customer smashed windows at a South Tyneside bank after learning he still had thousands of pounds left to pay on a loan.
Jobless Graham Ramsey vandalised the TSB offices – formerly Lloyds TSB – in Barrington Street, South Shields, in the early hours of Friday, July 4.
He took a piece of wood from nearby St Hilda’s Church and started smashing windows with it, and was heard by one eyewitness to say: “I put the windows out – nobody cares.”
Later he attended South Shields Police Station and told staff of the offence, which caused an estimated £1,000 damage.
Appearancing at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court, Ramsey, 46, of Moreland Road, South Shields, admitted a charge of criminal damage.
He was sentenced to a nine-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay compensation of £100.
The court heard Ramsey was furious that he still owed almost the full amount on a £7,000 loan he had taken out from the bank five years earlier.
Stan Sudworth, prosecuting, said: “This incident happened at 3.30 in the morning, and a witness who was using the cashpoint saw Mr Ramsey, as it turned out, go to St Hilda’s Church, pick up a large piece of wood, go back, and deliberately smash the windows at the bank.
“He then sat down at the JobCentre in Keppel Street, and a short time later presented himself at the police station, where he admitted he had just broken windows at Lloyds Bank.”
David Forrester, defending, said: “He was offered and then strongly advised to take a caution at the police station. However, he absolutely refused and said he wanted his day in court.
“The reason he took that decision is that he has had a difficult relationship with Lloyds Bank that goes back five years, when he took out a secured loan on his house for £7,000.
“He subsequently lost his job, but over the past few years he managed to pay off £3,500.
“He received a notice from the bank saying it had now sent the debt to a collection agency, and when he looked at the figures, which no doubt included the collection agency’s fees, he learned that he had only paid £150 off the loan.
“His view was that this was utterly unfair, and, clearly in a state of some upset, he decided to take it out on the windows.”
The court heard that due to the imposition of extra costs, the loan has now increased to £9,500, and the former security guard, who is struggling to prevent his home being repossessed, has found himself in a “cycle of poverty”.
Source – Shields Gazette, 04 Aug 2014
> Yet another case of benefit sanctions leading to crime…
A woman went stole items from the same South Tyneside store as she was struggling for cash following a benefits sanction.
Sarah Stanton snatched DVDs worth a total of nearly £145 during three raids at WH Smith in King Street, South Shields.
The 27-year-old admitted three counts of shop theft at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.
Stanton, of Craster Avenue, Shiremoor, North Tyneside, carried out the thefts on Wednesday, March 26, Saturday, April 5 and Monday, April 7.
She stole a DVD box set and a Blu-Ray disc worth £54.98 in the first offence, took DVDs valued at £60 during the second theft and DVDs worth £30 in the final offence.
Jonathan Moore, prosecuting, said: “The thefts were from WH Smith in King Street.
“On Saturday, April 5, a store manager on duty did a check at 3.40pm and noticed a Game of Thrones DVD was missing.
“CCTV was viewed and a female was seen selecting DVDs worth £60 and left without making any attempt to pay.”
On April 8, Stanton was again spotted on CCTV taking more DVDs on footage from the day previous.
She was arrested while selling on the DVDs at another store in the town.
When arested, she also admitted the first theft from March 26.
Paul Kennedy, defending, said: “At the time this lady had her benefits sanctioned. She didn’t have any money and was living at a friend’s house. She sold the items on to get money to buy food.
These offences occured because she was in a difficult financial situation.”
She was given a 12-month conditional discharge by magistrates and ordered to pay compensation of £144.98 to the retail chain.
Source – Shields Gazette, 10 June 2014
> Something we’re going to see more of in the near future if things continue on their present course…
A homeless man who flouted a court’s order urged magistrates to lock him up – so he has a hope of securing accomodation upon his release.
Andrew Foster told the probation service he wasn’t willing to comply with a 12-month community order handed out in February for offences of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour to cause harassment, alarm or distress to a Police Community Support Officer and resisting a police constable in the execution of his duty.
The 31-year-old admitted breaching his order for the second time at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court by failing to turn up for pre-arranged appointments on April 2 and 9.
The probation service asked for the order to be revoked and for Foster to be resentenced.
The court heard that Foster, of no fixed abode, had shown no motivation to complete the order and told probation staff he didn’t feel able to comply with the requirements placed on him.
Michael Henderson, mitigating, said his client asked to be sent to prison as he ‘couldn’t cope’ with the outside world.
Mr Henderson said:”I’m sure some defendants would come before court and offer every excuse known to man as to why they haven’t complied and ask for a further chance – and essentially waste court time.
“Mr Foster is not doing that. He has drug and mental health problems and a lack of accomodation.
“He was made subject to this order and and fair play to him, he has not committed any more offences.
“He has not committed any more offences but he can’t cope on the outside.
“He has got nowhere to live and feels desperate.
“He feels the order he is on is very onerous.
“From his point of view he can’t comply and he knows this is the end of the road.
“He wants to go into prison and come out with a clean slate.
“He thinks if he goes into prison it will increase his chances of finding a place to live.
“He has pleaded guilty at the first opportunity. Hopefully he can come out with a clean slate and hopefully get accomodation, sort out his drug issues and get himself working – that’s what he wants.”
Marian Craig, chair of the magistrates, said: “Obviously, from everything we have heard, you have got no intention of sticking to any programme the probation service may give you.
“We have no other option but to give you a custodial sentence.”
Foster was resentenced for his original offences and given six weeks for the charge of using threatening using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour offence and two weeks for the resist a police officer charge, making for a total of eight weeks in custody.
Source – Shields Gazette 06 May 2014
A THIEF downed five cans of booze in public view in a South Tyneside supermarket – in a bid to get arrested.
Martin Lazenby drank the cans of Smirnoff vodka and cranberry juice at Asda in Coronation Street, South Shields, before leaving the evidence littered around the store.
The 47-year-old even initially told a member of security staff he had consumed 12 cans of the alcohol when stopped.
Lazenby, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to stealing the cans – valued at £9.10 – at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court yesterday.
He had carried out the offence at about 5.35pm on Thursday, and spent the night in custody after being arrested before appearing at court.
The court heard Lazenby had been sleeping rough at the time, and went in the store and took the alcohol in the hope of getting arrested and spending a night in custody with a roof over his head.
Paul Kennedy, defending, said: “He had been suffering from fits, and went into the store to get some alcohol to stop the shaking.
“He consumed the alcohol in the store in the hope of being arrested and spending a night in the cells.”
Lazenby was given a six-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay compensation of £9.10 to Asda, as well as a victim surcharge of £5.90 – reduced from £15 due to his lack of means.
Source – Shields Gazette, 22 Feb 2014