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13 December 2013, 17:32
A man who ran amok through a busy shopping street with a large machete and claw hammer, was making a cry for help to get arrested, a court was told.
Anthony Underwood, wanted help to beat a £300 a day cocaine habit, it was claimed, which he thought he would get if he was in custody.
A large number of police officers attempted to keep him away from lunchtime shoppers in the heart of Bedford, as he waved the machete above his head and slashed at bollards.
Then one brave officer rugby tackled him to the ground and he was disarmed.
That officer, Sgt Philp Boyd was commended by Judge Barbara Mensah for his 'courage and bravery'.
Underwood, 27, from Croxden Way, Elstow, Bedford pleaded guilty to affray, possessing a bladed article and criminal damage. He was given an eight month prison sentence suspended for 18 months, with 120 hours unpaid work and supervision at Luton crown court on Friday.
Colin Banham, prosecuting said on Nov 11 this year he went to Greyfriars police station in Bedford and smashed two glass panels in a door. Officers could see the three foot long machete in one hand and a claw hammer in the other.
"The defendant left the station and began walking through a pedestrian area and into Midland Road, a busy shopping street on a Monday lunchtime. The incident merited a large police presence and was captured on CCTV. Oficers were seen to form a cordon in front and behind him and were trying to calm him down. At one point he runs at quite a pace down the pavement lashing out at wooden bollards with the machete in a threatening manner. A woman pushing an empty buggy with her child in her arms can be seen running into a shop for safety.
It was when he slowed down that one brave officer decided to rugby tackle him to the ground," said Mr. Banham.
Underwood then told police he had decided that day to get himself arrested because he could not cope with his spiraling addiction to cocaine. He thought that merely damaging the doors of the police station would not get him locked up.
He said he went out into the street but did not intend to harm anyone.
Robert English, defending said: "It was an ill considered cry for help, an act of desperation. But it was wrong and foolish. He has now spent five weeks in custody and is free of cocaine and in a good state of mind. But he does require some support in the community for his own good and to protect the public."
The barrister said the weapons, which were confiscated, were lawfully owned by him for use in his work a a roofer.
Judge Mensah told Underwood: "Watching the CCTV I can see it was a very frightening incident. You were brandishing the machete in such a reckless fashion that anyone could have come out of a shop and been struck by it. The officer who tackled you could have been seriously injured. What you did at the police station would have got you arrested you did not need to run down the road waving the weapon around your head. You have told probation officers that you don't want to be in custody any longer because of the negative impact it will have on your employment, and you feel you are now on the right path. They are willing to work with you to address your offending behaviour and reduce your risk of harm"
Underwood was also ordered to pay £535 prosecution costs and a £100 victim surcharge.