Thief jailed for syringe threat

Steven Blackledge
Steven Blackledge

A shoplifter who threatened to stab a security guard in the eye with a syringe after being caught red-handed has been jailed for 20 months.

Steven David Blackledge, 38, had tried to walk out of B&M Bargains, on Parsonage Retail Park in Leigh, with washing-up liquid valued at £6.99, Bolton Crown Court was told.

But when he was challenged by a security official he brandished a syringe and threatened to stab him in the eye, the court heard.

David Bruce, prosecuting, said the incident took place just after 12.30pm on May 29.

Blackledge also struck at the B&Q store, also in Leigh, on September 12, when he tried to walk out with five Yale locks valued at £270, the court heard.

He made similar threats to a security guard there and was arrested later.

The court was told the second security guard could not make out whether the shoplifter was carrying a knife or a syringe but he still believed the threat might be carried out.

Mr Bruce said it was clear that the episodes were particularly “frightening” for the security guards concerned.

Blackledge, of Devonshire Road, Atherton, pleaded guilty to two offences each of theft, possession of an offensive weapon and using threatening words or behaviour, in relation to the two incidents.

The court heard that the defendant’s criminal record included 39 convictions for 99 offences, including a robbery.

Before passing sentence Judge Timothy Clayson, Recorder of Bolton, said: “These are not robberies because the threat is issued after the theft.

“Though in other respects they are very similar to robbery offences because he is trying to get away with stolen property and putting people in fear of injury.”

Mr Bruce said Blackledge also had a number of previous convictions for possession of a bladed article in a public place, as well as a substantial sentence for drugs offences in 2009.