Drunken man threatened to stab with "HIV syringe" outside BRI
A MAN who brandished a syringe outside a Bristol hospital, threatening to stab someone and infect them with HIV, has appeared in court.
Stephen Howe, 49, of no fixed abode, was arrested by police on Sunday shortly after the incident which occurred outside the Bristol Royal Infirmary (BRI).
Howe, an alcoholic with a history of drug problems, pleaded guilty to the offence at Bristol Magistrates' Court yesterday but was committed to crown court for sentencing after the bench heard of his previous conviction for offensive weapons.
The court heard that on Sunday at 2pm a security officer from the BRI was called to the incident outside the hospital on Upper Maudlin Street.
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In a statement read out in court, the officer said: "I saw a male confronting another male and pursuing him as he tried to move away.
"He was saying 'I'm going to stab you with this needle. I've got HIV and hepatitis B'."
The security guard said he was "frightened" and "intimidated" by the defendant's actions and feared for his own safety.
Laura Opie, prosecuting, said: "The security officer shouted to the defendant to put the needle down. He did, but continued to pursue the other male and swear at him."
After police arrested the man, they said he was too drunk to be interviewed that evening.
When they were finally able to speak to him about the incident he admitted the offence and was remanded in custody until his court appearance yesterday.
Ms Opie said that Howe had five previous convictions for possessing bladed articles and an imitation firearm.
Robert Morgan-Jones, defending, argued that although the offence was serious, Howe should be given credit for his early guilty plea and his willingness to drop the needle when asked to do so.
He said Howe, who appeared in court dressed in a white cricket jumper, should be sentenced to six months in prison – the lengthiest custodial sentence possible in a magistrates' court.
He said: "This is the carrying of a weapon in dangerous circumstances. "But the man he threatened never made a complaint and hasn't even been spoken to by police.
"The offence lasted a very short time. As soon as he was told to put the needle down, he did."
After deliberating with the bench for 20 minutes, presiding magistrate Alan Rushin told Howe: "We have looked at your list of previous offences and we feel there are too many aggravating features here."
Mr Rushin decided to send Howe to Bristol Crown Court to be sentenced. He was remanded in custody and will appear on January 2.