Portsmouth man threatened shop worker so he could go to jail

Eric Cookson was sentenced at Portsmouth Crown Court
Eric Cookson was sentenced at Portsmouth Crown Court

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A MAN faked an attempted shop robbery in a bizarre ‘cry for help’ after his relationship broke down, a court heard.

Eric Cookson, 29, walked into a Co-op and calmly explained to the baffled shop assistant that he was going to pretend to rob the store because he needed to be arrested.

He said: ‘I’m going to attempt to rob this store. I will ask you for money. You will say no, I will leave.’

When the shop worker pushed the panic alarm, Cookson responded by saying ‘I will wait outside,’ before leaving the shop, Portsmouth Crown Court heard.

Another person came into the store in Arundel Drive, Fareham, and raised concerns about Cookson, who was sitting outside talking to himself and drinking alcohol.

He then went back in and said: ‘I will make this crystal clear. I’m not going to hurt you. I need to be arrested.’

Martyn Booth, prosecuting, said: ‘He reached into a bag which he had on him, pulled out a large knife, it was described as being about 9in in length.’

Mr Booth said Cookson did not go near the till.

The shop assistant said he was going to push the panic alarm again and said the police were on their way, to which Cookson replied that he was going to leave and said which direction he would be going in. He was arrested a short time later.

Mr Booth said: ‘This was a cry for help to some extent or another, wanting to go to prison as a result of his actions.’

The court heard he had split up with his girlfriend and was having problems with drugs and alcohol at the time as well as mental health problems.

Robert Forrest, defending, said: ‘He felt at the time that no-one understood the level of his problems, that’s why he did that very stupid thing that he did that day. He wanted to go to prison.’

Cookson admitted possessing a bladed article at the store shortly before 10.30pm on August 6.

Malcolm Gibney, sentencing, said: ‘A rather more harsh approach could easily have been taken to the charging of this case and you would be standing before me facing a lot more serious charges with the prospect of serving several years in prison.’

Recorder Gibney described Cookson’s actions as ‘spectacularly immature’ but accepted they were ‘completely out of character’.

Cookson, of Stubbington Avenue, North End, Portsmouth, given a 12-month suspended jail term and told to pay £100 to a fund for crime victims and £350 costs.

He must undergo a drug rehabilitation requirement.