‘Dangerous’ man detained in psychiatric hospital after threatening shop worker with ‘gun’

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A DANGEROUS would-be robber who threatened a shop worker saying he had a gun has been detained indefinitely at a psychiatric hospital.

Carl Cunningham terrified the Spar worker in Osborne Road, Southsea, demanding he hand over cash on March 28, a court heard.

But the 38-year-old never had a gun on him and is now being treated in a mental health hospital.

He suffers from chronic paranoid schizophrenia but was called a ‘dangerous person’ by a judge.

Portsmouth Crown Court heard he had carried out previous offences ‘almost identical in nature,’ a psychiatrist giving evidence at the hearing said.

Recorder Anne Arnold said: ‘It’s no doubt that you are a dangerous person, that you do present a risk and have a high likelihood of committing like offences, your past history being the best indicator of that.’

But the judge said he did not pass the legal test to be considered dangerous.

She added: ‘You are suffering from a mental health disorder, chronic paranoid schizophrenia.

‘That disorder is of a nature that it’s appropriate for you to be detained for mental health treatment.’

The judge imposed a section 37 hospital order under the Mental Health Act with a restriction under section 41 due to the type of offence, his previous offences and the risk he poses.

It means he cannot be released without approval of the Secretary of State.

Addressing Cunningham, who wore dark-tinted glasses in the high-security dock, Judge Arnold said this was ‘not an instance of a punishment but for your own wellbeing and treatment and in the end with a view to protecting the public’.

The judge earlier said: ‘You have pleaded guilty on an earlier occasion before me to an offence of attempted robbery threatening a member of staff at the Spar shop in Osborne Road that you had a gun and demanding money from them.

‘Had that been completed, albeit no gun was produced, nor in your possession, it would represent a considerable threat to the member of staff concerned.’

The victim had been left ‘shaking’ at the time of making his police statement.

A restraining order bans Cunningham, of Shaftesbury Road, Southsea, from going to the shop.

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Lisa Gardiner said: ‘He hasn’t actually tried to hurt anybody, hasn’t harmed a member of the public but psychologically there has been harm to members of the public.’

She added: ‘Without this restriction it’s highly likely he will carry out another offence.’