Clitheroe man spared jail after knife threat

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A KNIFEMAN who threatened a taxi driver in a “mini crime spree” has walked free from court.

Michael Richards (46), of Brownlow Street, Clitheroe, had started to argue with the victim, had opened a lock knife then closed it and told him: “You’re working in my town. I can get you any time I want.”

Richards, who has 21 previous convictions and was said to have been on his second “crime spree” in the past seven years, was staring jail in the face at Burnley Crown Court. But, he kept his freedom because the court was told he had gone back on the straight and narrow and was getting help for his problems.

The defendant had admitted having a bladed instrument with him in King Lane last August 6th. He was given 26 weeks in jail, suspended for two years, combined with a 12-month supervision order.

Miss Sarah Statham (prosecuting) said at 3-30 p.m. the victim was in the passenger seat of a friend’s taxi, when Richards approached and began to row with him over a telephone he had left in his cab.

The defendant produced a lock knife and opened it. He then closed it again and walked off, leaving the taxi driver feeling frightened and threatened.

Miss Statham said the defendant was spoken to by police 10 minutes later, produced the knife when asked about it and said he was going fishing. He had no other fishing equipment on him.

Richards was questioned at the police station and claimed he had been on his way to an outdoors shop to show the knife to someone he had previously had a conversation with. He alleged he had thought the victim had produced a knife.

Mr Philip Holden, in mitigation for Richards, said the past had repeated itself. He had been on a mini crime spree in 2005 and that appeared to have been what happened on this occasion.

After a period of treatment in the community, he had stopped offending, but a similar pattern had emerged again. The barrister continued: “Since he has been put on a supervision order with a drug treatment order, he has again been compliant with the probation service. He is stabilising himself so far as methadone and alcohol are concerned.”

Passing sentence Judge Beverley Lunt told Richards: “This was a very serious matter indeed and I am concerned that, in the opinion of the author of the pre-sentence report, you seem to minimise your responsibility and how this situation developed.”

She said when a knife was produced, things could get out of hand very quickly, but added: “Your crimes have stopped again and you seem to be getting help for the problems you have.”