A man who threatened a stranger with a knife on a busy Sheffield street, and told him he was going to 'kill' and 'shank' him, has been given a second 'chance'.
"This is something of a crossroad in your life, an opportunity to choose between prison and turning your life around, and making something of it," Judge Paul Watson QC told defendant, Paul Booth during a hearing held at Sheffield Crown Court today (July 31).
Judge Watson told Booth, 31, that 'those who go round in public places with knives go to prison' - but said he felt able to give Booth a 'chance' and suspended his 12 month prison sentence for 18 months.
He told him the fact he has a supportive family who will ensure he will takes medication prescribed for his mental health problems, and is now in secure accommodation were among the reasons he was prepared to step back from an immediate custodial sentence.
The court heard how Booth carried out the offence of threatening a person in a public place with a bladed article against a terrified stranger who was walking along Division Street in Sheffield city centre on the afternoon of July 9 this year.
"The victim heard a man shouting: 'Come here'. The man looked around and there was no-one else about. The defendant was about 30 yards away, and continued shouting: 'Come here, I'm going to kill you, you stole my change'," Louise Gallagher, prosecuting, told the court.
She added: "The victim told him he had only just got up and told the man didn't know what he was talking about. The defendant was getting closer and was still threatening him...the man turned round and saw the defendant was standing directly behind him holding a knife.
"The defendant was holding the knife and pointing it towards him, saying: 'I'm going to kill you'. A witness corroborated the victim's account, and said she heard the defendant shouting, saying: 'I'm going to shank you'."
The victim called the police, and Booth, of Deerlands Avenue, Parson Cross was arrested on Division Street a short time later.
When interviewed by police, Booth told officers he was homeless and someone had stolen his cap with change in it while he was sleeping rough, the court heard.
Booth said a nearby business had allowed him to check their CCTV to see who had stolen the cap and money from him, and he had believed it to be the man he was involved in an altercation with.
Booth pleaded guilty to the offence at an earlier court hearing, and Ms Gallagher told the court this was Booth's third offence for possessing a bladed article or weapon in a public place.
Laura Marshall, defending, said Booth stopped taking medication for his mental health problems three years ago, when he won a significant amount of money.
She said his windfall made him feel 'invincible' but was ultimately the worst thing that could have happened to him because it caused his life to spiral out of control, eventually leaving him homeless and causing his relationship with his wife and children to breakdown.
"He knows he now has stable accommodation, that he has to take his medication and become a positive, contributing member of society," added Ms Marshall.
In addition to his suspended sentence, Judge Watson also ordered Booth to complete up to 25 days of a rehabilitation activity requirement and made him the subject of a four month curfew, between the hours of 7pm and 6am.