Man described as ticking bomb by Norwich judge is jailed for repeatedly refusing to stop inhaling butane gas

PUBLISHED: 08:27 18 October 2017

Andrew Francis was jailed for 32 months. Picture: Norfolk Constabulary

Andrew Francis was jailed for 32 months. Picture: Norfolk Constabulary

Norfolk Constabulary

A man who has repeatedly refused to stop inhaling butane gas on Norwich streets has been jailed by a judge who described him as a “ticking bomb” and “an accident waiting to happen”.

Norwich Crown Court. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYNorwich Crown Court. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Andrew Francis, 37, had been banned from inhaling butane gas as part of a criminal behaviour order (CBO) imposed in July this year.

But Francis, who has no fixed address, had breached that order 13 times in just three months, including on September 8 when he was spotted inhaling the gas on Prince of Wales Road in Norwich.

Francis was seen inhaling the gas on 23 occasions and carried on despite being told to stop by police.

Francis appeared at Norwich Crown Court on Tuesday (October 17) for sentence after he admitted breaching the criminal behaviour order.

The court heard Francis has 69 convictions for 139 offences, including 80 breaches of court orders.

Jailing Francis for 32 months Judge Stephen warned these “flagrant” breaches were potentially putting others lives at risk.

Judge Holt said: “One of these days someone is going to get seriously hurt if you continue with this behaviour.”

He said butane gas, which is kept under high pressure in cans, presented a “really high risk of fire and public danger”.

Judge Holt referred to Francis as a “ticking bomb” and an “accident waiting to happen”.

Gavin Cowe, mitigating, said Francis had a troubled background and went into foster care at an early age.

He said inhaling butane was not a “lifestyle choice” as suggested in the defendant’s pre-sentence report.

But Mr Cowe told the court his client started inhaling butane at 16 and used it as an immediate form of “escape” rather than putting building blocks in place for a more effective way of escaping that lifestyle.

He said Francis had pleaded guilty at the first time of asking.

As previously reported, Francis was jailed for eight weeks earlier this year after breaching a criminal behaviour order just over 24 hours after it was imposed at Norwich Magistrates Court.

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