Man jailed for threatening people with syringe
A MAN who threatened to stab someone with a syringe outside a Bristol hospital is one of the first people to be jailed under a new law.
Stephen Howe admitted the charge of threatening with a blade or pointed weapon in public. He committed the offence on December 9, just six days after the new law came into force.
The 49-year-old, of no fixed address, was arrested after the incident outside the Bristol Royal Infirmary.
The alcoholic, who also has a history of drug problems, pleaded guilty to the offence before Bristol magistrates but was committed to the crown court for sentencing after the bench heard of his previous conviction for offensive weapons.
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Jailing him for five months Judge Michael Roach told him: "You now know that sort of behaviour won't be tolerated.
"Having a needle in a public place is always going to bring you into conflict with the law and means that judges like me will send you to prison."
Robert Reid, prosecuting, said an aggravating feature of the offence was that it was outside the hospital on Upper Maudlin Street where the public and children were coming and going.
He said: "At 2.30pm security staff went to where the defendant was, in the ambulance bays. He was brandishing a syringe, saying 'I'm going to stab you with this needle.'
"The security officer was alarmed for the welfare of another male, as well as himself. He was afraid the aggression would be turned on him."
Mr Reid said the officer instructed intoxicated Howe to put the needle down and Howe complied, but continued using bad language and made threats to stab and kill. Police arrested him, he made no comment and the hospital disposed of the syringe.
Howe's 64 previous convictions included offences of violence and arson, said Mr Reid.
Robert Morgan-Jones, defending, said: "The offence came into force on December 3. Mr Howe is probably one of the first in the country to contravene it."
Mr Morgan-Jones conceded his client's intoxication at the time aggravated the offence.
He said: "He is 49 and he looks much older. He's clearly had quite a hard life."
The court heard Howe had problems possibly arising from drug misuse, which he wanted to get help for.
Afterwards, a spokeswoman for the Crown Prosecution Service said that under the new law, Howe should have received a minimum of six months' jail and could have been given up to four years.