Mentally-ill man sentenced for knife offence

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First published in News
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A MENTALLY-ILL man who wandered from home and produced a knife when police tried to approach him, has been given a community order.

Matthias Townsend, of Spindleberry Close, Blackbird Leys, Oxford, pleaded guilty to one count of possessing a bladed article in a public place and was yesterday sentenced at Oxford Crown Court.

Jerome Silva, prosecuting, said two police officers went to the 32-year-old’s address on January 18, 2012, after receiving a worried call from his mother.

He told Recorder Gillian Jones that they found the defendant sitting in an armchair looking dishevelled.

Mr Silva said as they discussed with his mother the possibility of a mental health assessment, Townsend left the house, despite it being -3C outside.

The police officers followed and as they approached the defendant, he raised a knife he had with him, the barrister said.

Mr Silva said the officers kept a distance but followed Townsend to a park where he sat in a stream holding the blade and occasionally washing himself for about an hour before he was taken into custody.

Peter Du Feu, defending, suggested the case would have been dealt with by mental health services if not for the Government’s crackdown on knife crime.

The recorder said that aside from a caution for battery in 2011, Townsend had never been in trouble with the law.

She told him: “At the time this offence was committed you were in ill health and had been in decline for several months. Everyone around you had become concerned about your behaviour."

But she added that since the offence, Townsend had made a lot of progress.

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She sentenced him to a community order for 12 months with a mental health programme requirement and supervision for six months.

He also has to pay a £60 victims’ surcharge.

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