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Suspended sentence for thief who threatened to stab security guards

Richard Burns, 31, pleaded guilty to stealing alcohol on two occasions and admitted using threatening behaviour towards security staff when caught

An Aldershot man spotted stealing whisky from a supermarket was chased by security staff, whom he then threatened to stab, a court has heard.

Richard Burns, 31, of Cadnam Close, picked up a box of six bottles of whisky at Sainsbury's in Alton on December 29 and walked out without paying.

Aldershot Magistrates' court heard how security staff ran after him as he dropped the box and fled, but Burns twice stopped to yell threatening words back at his pursuers, shouting: "Back off, or I'll stab you."

He had been caught on CCTV stealing whisky from the same supermarket on December 22, and appeared at court on Thursday (January 23) to admit both crimes, plus using threatening behaviour towards the security guard.

Burns, who has dyslexia and ADHD, said he had stolen the bottles to give as presents to his family, with whom he was living at that time.

He had previous convictions for theft, battery, assaulting a police officer and possession of Class B drugs, and a community order with a drug and alcohol rehabilitation requirement was made on January 3.

Alphie Doran, defending, said his client was doing a painting and decorating course at Basingstoke College but currently had no money.

"This is someone who has been using drugs since the age of 15," he said. "This is compounded with mental health problems such as ADHD and anger issues as well.

"He says this is a chance for a fresh start. He has been drug-free for almost two years but relapsed and is now keen to get back to being drug-free."

District Judge Philip Gillibrand said it was "early days" regarding Burns' rehabilitation and was concerned about his repeat offending and the fact he often became violent when he was caught.

"You were diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic, but there are many people who have that who are able to work and make a positive contribution," he said.

"You should not think of yourself as having an excuse because you are dyslexic or have paranoid schizophrenia."

He added: "I think there are enough positives to take a risk with you."

He therefore imposed a total of 20 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 18 months. Burns was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £80.

Mr Gillibrand took Burns to task about his conduct towards police officers who arrested him, as the defendant described one as a "jobsworth" for stopping him from picking up some drugs which he knew would later be confiscated anyway.

"You need to reflect on that when you consider your behaviour," he said. "There are some difficult consequences if you don't get your act together.

"The ball is in your court. If you get on with life and stay out of trouble you will be fine."

 
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