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Armed man who threatened to 'slit throat' of neighbour jailed

PUBLISHED: 06:30 04 October 2019 | UPDATED: 11:42 13 October 2019

Norwich Crown Court. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Norwich Crown Court. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk

A man who has lived with no electricity or heating for months threatened to "slit the throat" of his neighbour in a block of flats.

Michael Bensley appeared at the door of his next door neighbour, whose carer was with him at the time, wielding a "flimsy" craft knife, Norwich Crown Court heard.

Police were called to the property at Nuffield Close in Gorleston on May 6 and arrested Bensley, but he later failed to turn up at court.

Prosecutor Oliver Haswell told the court the victim had refused to make a statement to police, but his carer had given police enough information for a prosecution.

They had heard a noise in the communal hallway of the building and saw Bensley disappear into his adjacent flat.

"A few moments later there was a loud banging at his door," said Mr Haswell.

"He opened it and saw Mr Bensley at the threshold. The carer describes him as agitated and shaky, his face contorted, and he had something in each hand.

"Closer inspection led him to conclude one of the items was a flimsy plastic craft knife with a blade extended.

"Mr Bensley says 'I will cut you and slit your throats'. They responded in a questioning fashion before shutting the door and locking it."

Police were called and Bensley was arrested nearby. Two craft knives were found inside his flat.

Bensely was charged with possession of a bladed article, but it could not proceed to court as the hallway was not a public place.

Andrew Oliver, mitigating for Bensley, said his problems stemmed from excessive drinking, social isolation, and his benefits being taken away.

He added it had been a "stupid, idle threat" that wasn't meant to be carried out.

"His Job Seekers Allowance was terminated in May and he has not had a claim accepted since then," said Mr Oliver.

"From a social care point of view I get the impression he has buried his head in the sand.

"He has no family and no social network of friends. He has not had the heating or electricity on or any money for drink.

"He has been surviving by going to the foodbank. As we approach winter he is going to have real problems."

Judge Katharine Moore said it was a "concerning offence".

She added there is no prospect of rehabilitation as Bensley told the probation service he did not want help.

"This is something of a sorry tale," she said. "You have no source of income and it is perfectly clear you have not been looking after yourself very well.

"Really you need help but it becomes difficult where there is a history of failing to comply."

Bensley was jailed for 12 weeks after admitting a public order offence and failing to answer bail.

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