Man with knife hidden in groin area said it was because he was under a ‘paramilitary death threat’

POLICE found a man had a lock knife hidden in his groin area when searched at Ballymena’s Ballymoney Road and he said he had it is because he was under a “death threat”.

At Ballymena Magisrates Court Kurtis Mitchell (26) admitted possession of a knife in a public place at 1pm on June 8 this year when officers stopped and spoke with him.

The prosecutor said “an object was found in his groin area and a lock knife then is recovered from his underwear”.

The prosecution lawyer said the defendant said he had a “death threat” and he wasn’t going to use it and instead it was a “scare tactic”.

Meanwhile, at 3.45pm on September 1 this year the defendant again had a knife in his possession at North Road in Ballymena where he was disorderly and also was possessing Xanax.

Police saw Mitchell and a female “behaving suspiciously” and both appeared to be “under the influence” but there was no smell of alcohol from the defendant.

Mitchell threw a black bag from over his shoulder into a nearby carpark along with a “small kitchen knife”.

The defendant struggled and shouted and was “screaming out” and was restrained on the ground by police.

Two small ‘deal bags’ containing white pills – believed to be Xanax – were recovered from the bag.

On August 2 this year Mitchell stole £34 worth of goods from B&M Bargains in Ballymena.

A prosecutor said a member of the public contacted police and named Mitchell as being responsible for a theft and when CCTV was viewed the offence was detected.

In March this year the defendant stole £25 worth of groceries from Savers in Ballymena.

A prosecutor said an unknown female told staff she saw a male placing items in a bag for life.

Mitchell had approached a till and paid for some items but not for others and he was “positively identified by people who know him from the local area”.

Mitchell, formerly of the Ballymena area but now with an address listed as outside the town, also stole £50 worth of goods from TC’s at Cullybackey Road in the town.

A defence barrister said the defendant, was “easily recognisable” to police in Ballymena.

The lawyer said Mitchell had moved away from the town to try and disassociate himself from “negative peer influences”.

The lawyer said the thefts were all committed after the defendant took “large amounts” of Xanax.

The court heard the defendant was “under a paramilitary threat” and suffers from a heightened degree of anxiety because of his drug abuse but appreciates now that a “weapon is not going to assist him if he is confronted by paramilitaries,” according to the lawyer.

The defence lawyer said Mitchell has engaged positively with drugs agencies and was awaiting the assistance of mental health services and said it may be a case were suspended sentences could be imposed to allow him to continue his “good work” with those agencies.

District Judge Nigel Broderick told the defendant: “You are going to have to mend your ways, if you don’t you are going to go to jail – you are very much in a last chance saloon situation”.

Mitchell was given a five months prison term, suspended for a year, and ordered to pay compensation for items he had stolen.

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