A man wielding a 12-inch carving knife during a three-hour police stand-off pressed the blade to his chest and shouted: “The devil told me to kill myself!”
Max Noble, 28, brandished the weapon in the street as armed officers and police negotiators tried to coax him into surrender.
The dramatic scenes unfolded in Ireton Street, Scarborough, where Noble’s strange and terrifying behaviour included requests for a Chinese takeaway, beer and cigarettes, York Crown Court heard.
Prosecutor Giles Grant said police armed with Taser guns, community support officers and negotiators tried to calm Noble, who was drunk and pointing the kitchen knife at his chest and throat as horrified residents watched from their homes.
Noble finally surrendered after a stand-off which lasted more than three hours. He was arrested and charged with carrying a blade in public.
Mr Grant said that a month before the shocking incident, Noble and three other men stole champagne and vodka from Morrison’s supermarket in Scarborough. Noble fled from the supermarket before police arrived but he was later identified on CCTV.
He appeared for sentence on Wednesday after admitting both the knife charge and the shoplifting offence.
Mr Grant said police were called to Ireton Street on the evening of December 17, when they found Noble shouting and bawling, holding his mobile phone in one hand and the knife in the other.
“He was pressing (the knife) to his chest,” said the barrister. “He was shouting words to the effect that he didn’t want to harm anyone or any officers, but the devil was telling him to kill himself.
“He moved the knife to his throat and made further threats, and demands for food, beer and other things (including) a Chinese takeaway and cigarettes.”
The first officers to arrive on the scene stayed in their vehicle over fears for their safety. Police armed with stun guns arrived and one officer tried to talk Noble into surrender.
“The defendant asked the police officer for a cigarette (and) the officer gave him one,” added Mr Grant.
“The defendant was given another two cigarettes and seemed to calm down, but throughout he was holding the knife.”
Noble, of Westover Road, Scarborough, was finally arrested at about 11.30pm. He claimed he had found the knife in a cemetery 20 minutes before the incident.
“He said he was sorry for what he had done and wished to apologise,” added Mr Grant.
He said Noble had 17 previous convictions for 27 offences including two for possessing a knife in public, as well as theft from the person and resisting a police officer.
His record for theft included the stealing of alcohol from Morrison’s on November 17, when Noble and his three pals walked out of the store clutching a “basket full of spirits”. The store manager followed them out and shouted to Noble that he knew who he was, but the brazen defendant replied: “So what?”
Noble was released on bail following the police stand-off, but he was booked again a few days later for being drunk and disorderly and ripping wing mirrors and a wiper blade off parked cars. The incidents happened in Scarborough and Bridlington.
Defence barrister Taryn Turner said the knife incident, which was likened to a “siege”, was “most disturbing”, particularly given her client’s track record for carrying blades.
She said the incident had arisen from a relationship breakdown just before Christmas when Noble and his partner split up. Noble had mental-health problems and had been taking medication for depression.
Jailing Noble for 20 months, Judge Paul Batty QC told him: “It may well be that you were (only) intending to cause injury to yourself, but… you were drunk and you were maudlin, feeling sorry for yourself.
“You told police that the devil was telling you to kill yourself. You were also demanding food, beer, a Chinese takeaway and cigarettes. I doubt very much that the devil was telling you to demand these items.
“All this in the heart of Scarborough, with members of the public no doubt horrified watching this unfold.”