A man armed with a kitchen knife who bit a security guard on the nipple after an altercation in a Sheffield Jobcentre has avoided a prison sentence.
Lewis Barlow, aged 22, of Barrie Road, Southey, was given a three-year supervision order with 240 hours unpaid work after admitting actual bodily harm, possession of an offensive weapon and possession of a Class B drug.
Sheffield Crown Court heard the bite ‘penetrated the skin’ and left the security guard with ‘severe bruising’.
Michael Tooley prosecuting, told the court: “Barlow is no stranger to assaults with 12 recorded offences on seven different occasions.”
The judge Recorder David Osbourne warned Barlow: “If you appear in this court again, you will go down for a very long time.”
Barlow attended the Jobcentre on West Street in Sheffield on December 5, 2014.
Mr Tooley said he got ‘angry’ and ‘aggressive’ when a member of staff tried to handle his benefit claim and he kicked and turned over a desk.
Security guards intervened as Barlow struggled with Jobcentre staff and the scuffle spilled outside.
Barlow bit a security guard on the nipple and grabbed another Jobcentre staff member by the throat.
Police were called and the court heard Barlow ‘wrapped his legs around a police officer’.
As the altercation continued, a kitchen knife fell out of his pocket along with a ‘minimal amount’ of cannabis.
Mr Tooley said: “The man who suffered the chest wound has lost earnings, he turned down the chance to work in Spain on medical grounds and has said he has trouble eating and drinking.
“He has become depressed and been off work.”
Gurdial Singh, defending, said Barlow planned to move in with his partner and would be more settled.
He said: “Jailing him would not be beneficial, he knows he has problems and is desperate to find employment but has found it hard due to previous convictions.
“The alternative is that he gets the help at finding the work which will engage him to stop smoking cannabis.”
Recorder Osbourne said: “I find the possession of the knife extremely worrying.
“This member of staff was so scared they had to call security and these staff are employed to help you.
“However, you are still young and I am in agreement with Mr Singh that a jail sentence would not be beneficial.
A spokesperson for the PCS union said: “This case like many others is part of a disturbing increasing trend when people are accessing benefits.
“In some unfortunate cases, claimants take it out on staff members because of government changes and reductions to the welfare budgets.”