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Corkscrew fright man sent to jail.

Byline: Gareth LIGHTFOOT Court reporter

A FRIGHTENED victim ran into traffic to escape a man wielding a corkscrew following a dispute over the sale of a puppy, a court heard.

Drunken Stephen Lathan sat next to the man on a bus, acted in a way that worried him then followed him shouting: "Oi. Oi."

He caught up with the victim and swung a punch at his face, Teesside Crown Court was told yesterday.

The victim avoided the blow and pushed Lathan away, then saw him take a "waiter's friend" corkscrew from his waistband.

Prosecutor David Crook said Lathan brandished the corkscrew on August 15.

The victim was so concerned he ran into traffic to get away and sought refuge in a shop.

Lathan, 52, followed and lingered outside the shop, and was aggressive to concerned teenagers.

He told a 14-year-old boy "I'll smack you too" before police arrived and arrested him.

He and the victim had contact before "due to a transaction about a puppy which the victim was going to buy", said Mr Crook.

Lathan, of Falston Close, Billingham, admitted possession of an offensive weapon on High Grange Avenue, Billingham and threatening behaviour.

He was in breach of a suspended prison sentence imposed in March for possessing a blade, where he pointed a craft knife at another man in an argument in Stockton.

He had a 32-year criminal record but had only been jailed once in 1986, for two months, said his barrister Peter Wishlade.

Mr Wishlade said: "He is unfortunately an alcoholic. It's a little difficult really to know where to start.

"He had been drinking that day because that is a daily occurrence.

"I've seen him many many times in a state where he has no idea what he's doing, what day it is or anything.

"He is to be pitied rather than anything else. He doesn't appear to be capable of giving up alcohol.

His liver is on its last legs."

The judge, Recorder Paul Camp, said prison would at least give Lathan some time without alcohol.

He said a report showed Lathan didn't understand the serious, frightening and dangerous nature of his behaviour. Lathan was jailed for eight months for the latest offences, plus 26 weeks for breaching the suspended sentence.
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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Sep 27, 2013
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