Heroin addict thief, 41, threatened to 'stick needle in throats' of Portsmouth shop workers

A HEROIN addict thief who threatened to ‘stick a needle’ in the throats of shop workers who tried to stop him stealing criticised a judge after he was sent to prison, saying: ‘Jail just makes me wiser.’

Long-suffering staff at Boots in Ocean Retail Park, Copnor, attempted to stop another spree of shoplifting from David Knipe, 41, on April 2 when events turned ugly.

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Employees at the store - who have been spat at during previous raids - were once again forced to confront the criminal, Portsmouth Crown Court heard.

David Knipe

Knipe was asked to leave the store when spotted before he left for Marks and Spencer and then returned later in the afternoon when he turned menacing, prosecutor Michael Mason said.

‘I’m going to nick something from you and I’m going to see who’s going to stop me,’ Knipe said, before adding: ‘If anyone does stop me I will stick a needle in their throat.’

Knipe, of Princes Street, Buckland, then left the store with three Oral B toothbrushes worth £239.97 as staff backed off.

But the thief - who has committed 191 offences with 87 convictions during his criminal career - was soon arrested by police after he was captured on CCTV following the incident.

In a victim statement read out to court, one of the shop workers said: ‘I’m now concerned about going out and being recognised by him.

‘I’m worried what he may do to me and am concerned about being in public with my daughter.

‘The threat he made about the needle should not happen - I fear he would do this. I should not have to be subjected to this behaviour at work.

‘He previously spat in my face which I reported but because there was no CCTV nothing could be done.’

The victim added: ‘He needs to be stopped as his behaviour is getting more serious.’

Edward Hollingsworth, defending, admitted he was ‘not looking forward to going downstairs’ to speak with Knipe before the sentencing hearing but told the court he was ‘genuinely surprised to find a polite and insightful’ individual who was ‘genuinely sorry’ for his actions.

The barrister said Knipe was more ‘stable’ now he was taking Methadone for his heroin addiction - which started when the defendant was 16.

The court heard Knipe has repeatedly been in and out of jail during his adult life and was handed a jail term of 25 months for wounding and possession of a knife.

Judge William Ashworth told Knipe: ‘You tried to make a point to (the Boots staff) that they were powerless by threatening them with a needle.

‘There was no needle but the threat was made. You have made repeated threats to the victim and he is now frightened to go out.’

The judge added: ‘I’m told you are remorseful but it is hard to accept that.’

After deciding to lock up Knipe for 12 months and ban him from entering Ocean Retail Park for five years, the judge was then criticised by the defendant as he was preparing to be taken down to begin his term.

Knipe, who admitted theft and two public order offences, said: ‘It’s not a punishment sending me to prison. I’d rather something in the community to address my problems than just lock me up.

‘Jail just makes me wiser and cleverer.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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