JUST weeks after a man who drunkenly brandished a knife in Leamington town centre had been given a chance to avoid prison, he was caught with an illegal CS gas canister.
A judge had heard James Norton had pulled out the knife during a confrontation with some tourists as he staggered through Leamington, so drunk he was ‘bouncing off walls.’
But despite it being his second conviction for having a knife in public, which would normally lead to a minimum of six months inside, the Leamington resident was given a chance to avoid prison.
The 27 year-old of Grove Street, had pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court in August to charges of common assault and possessing a bladed article in a public place.
After hearing he was to take part in programme to address his drink problem as part of a suspended sentence for shoplifting, Recorder Gareth Evans QC deferred sentence for six months to give him a chance to co-operate with the programme.
But Norton has now been jailed for a total of 18 months after Recorder Evans heard just seven weeks later he was caught shoplifting and in possession of a CS gas canister.
Prosecutor Gwen Williamson said in September Norton had been seen in the Debenham’s store in Nuneaton where he had put packs of underwear into a bag and walked out without paying.
Security staff followed him to the nearby bus station toilets where he shut himself in and refused to come out.
When Norton did finally emerge, he was detained by the security staff until the police arrived to arrest him, and in his jacket officers found an ‘American-style’ CS gas canister.
His barrister Henry Skudra said Norton had no intention to use the CS spray which was in a jacket he had borrowed from a friend with whom he was staying in Nuneaton at the time.
Jailing him, Recorder Evans told Norton: “In August, against the better judgement of others in court, I decided to take a risk with you. Within less than two months you were out committing further offences.
“I don’t accept the explanation that the CS gas was there by accident.