Man found in street with knife

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A TROUBLED man seen walking in the middle of road in the early hours had a knife on him, a court heard.

Schizophrenic Connolly Driver had been escorted to the pavement by police, had raised the weapon towards an officer and had asked him: “Do you want some?” Police were so concerned about his mental health after he was arrested, he was twice seen by medics, Burnley Crown Court was told.

Driver, who is on medication and regularly seeing a psychiatrist, was spared jail, after a judge said: “This gentleman is ill and always will be ill.”

Judge Beverley Lunt continued: “If I sent him to prison it will be totally damaging. About that there is no question whatsoever.” The judge, who also added the defendant’s case should have been heard by magistrates, told him: “You know what you did was very wrong. It must have been quite frightening for a policeman.”

Judge Lunt added she was prepared to deal with the incident as a one-off and told Driver: “You are never going to take a knife out of your house. Never.”

The defendant (53), of Pine Street, Nelson, admitted affray and possessing an offensive weapon, last November. He was given a 12-month community order with supervision.

Mr Stephen Parker (prosecuting) said police saw the defendant in the middle of Netherfield Road, Nelson, walking towards them. A car was going slowly behind him and was unable to get past. Officers, concerned for his safety, ushered him to the pavement.

Driver had a small knife in his hand and was drawing the exposed blade across his wrist. An officer shouted at him to stop and the defendant then raised the weapon towards the officer, waved the blade towards him and asked: “Do you want some?”

Mr Parker said the officer stepped back, drew his incapacitant spray and told the defendant to put the knife down, which he did. He was handcuffed and taken to the police station. Driver was assessed by the medical team before and after he was interviewed.

He said he had been looking for his cat, which had gone missing. Driver said the animal was dead and someone was going to have to pay for it. The defendant told officers he regularly carried the knife.

Mr Nick Dearing, for Driver, said he had been ill since he was 17 and was on incapacity benefits.