A man who made threats to kill at a Preston homeless shelter has been jailed.Advertisement
David Cunniffe was found in possession of a lock knife at the Foxton Centre.
He turned up at the building on 1 June to ask for help accessing medication after moving to Preston from Wigan.
The 48-year-old was told by staff at the Foxton they were not a medical facility and he needed to attend hospital.
Preston Crown Court heard Cunniffe, who was on a suspended sentence for GBH, became aggressive and said he would have to kill someone to get the help he needed.
Foxton staff called 999 and police attended and searched the nearby area for area for Cunniffe.
He was found in Ring Way with a two-inch lock knife in his pocket.
Cunniffe said he had nowhere to go as he had moved to Preston “after grassing on someone for cannabis” but had lost his accommodation following a row with another resident.
Daniel Harman, defending, explained Cunniffe had moved from Wigan in a hurry after moving into a house and finding a cannabis grow upstairs.
He said: “He is having to rebuild his life because of the criminal activity of others.
“He was trying to do the right thing but it has turned his life upside down.”
He was suffering mood swings and chronic pain in his leg after a motorbike accident several years ago, but was struggling to access prescriptions.
During his police interview, Cunniffe asked officers: “What do I have to do? Kill myself or kill other people to get medication?”
He pleaded guilty to possession of a bladed article and breach of a suspended sentence.
Sentencing, Recorder Joanne Woodward said she accepted Cunniffe had acted out of character during a mental health crisis but said there was no evidence he had taken all reasonable steps to obtain the medication he needed.
She said: “Even if this had been the case it does not explain why you were in possession of a lock knife.
“You have accepted by your plea that there was no good reason for this.”
At the time of the offence on June 1, Cunniffe was serving a suspended sentence for GBH after a fight at work in 2017 during which a colleague broke his wrist.
The judge said Cunniffe’s previous good character would have been taken into account when suspending the sentence in 2018, but now he had breached it there was no other option than an immediate prison sentence.
She activated 13 months of his GBH sentence and ordered him to serve four months concurrently for possession of a bladed article.
Within days of his arrest, Cunniffe had been rehoused and prescribed medication and he now presented as clean.
Chief executive of the Foxton Centre Jeff Marsh told Blog Preston: “On Cunniffe’s second visit to the centre the overnight staff refused him entry to the centre as he was in possession of a knife and threatening to kill people or harm himself they called the police mainly as they feared for his safety and that of members of the public. At that time of day the only emergency medical treatment available is through A&E.
“This kind of case reflects the terrible situation people find themselves on the street when in a new town and are in a mental health crisis. People become angry and distressed and it isn’t always possible to keep them calm.
“We are really pleased that as part of the new funding granted to Preston by the MHCLG for the establishment of a “Homeless Hub” in the city we have built a medical room at Foxton. The building work for this has been completed and we are in negotiation with health and other partners about the health support needed by rough sleepers and how this facility can be developed to use it.
“The first bit of the jigsaw has been dentistry with a local surgery offering a “Street Teeth” service which has treated over 30 people so far. Drug and Alcohol services are committed to use the space and importantly we are working out how mental health services can be involved. The sooner we get this all in place the better for people like David.”
Read more: How you can sleep out at Deepdale for the Big PNE Sleep Out to help The Foxton Centre