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A man has been spared jail despite making threats to kill, being caught with a knife, assaulting a woman with a cheeseburger and stealing from various businesses.Lynn resident Stuart Wallace, 49, who is currently homeless, appeared at the town’s magistrates’ court on Thursday.He had previously pleaded guilty to a number of charges during a hearing on December 9.
They included the theft of a pedal cycle, two counts of theft from a shop, attempted theft from a shop, and common assault.He also admitted possession of a kitchen knife in a public place, as well as two counts of using threatening or abusive behaviour to cause a person alarm or distress.A pre-sentence report was carried out before he returned to court on Thursday, when he admitted a further charge of theft from a shop.Crown prosecutor Colette Harper said that on November 27, Wallace entered Sainsbury’s in Lynn and attempted to steal £124 worth of alcohol and meat products.However, a store alarm sounded when he exited the store and his trolley wheels locked. He was approached by a member of staff, but continued his attempts to move the trolley – although he eventually left the scene empty-handed.This offence breached a suspended sentence he had been handed on June 14 last year. It had saw him handed a six-month jail term, suspended for 18 months.On December 1 in the Vancouver Quarter, he stole food and alcohol from Sainsbury’s worth £45.The following day, a member of the public entered McDonald’s on High Street in order to charge their phone. While inside, Wallace pinched their pedal bike from outside the restaurant and made off for the Tuesday Market Place.He was identified from CCTV footage captured by M&S across the road, and the bike was recovered with no damage done to it.Between December 4 and 5, Wallace proceeded to steal medicinal alcohol from the Southgates Medical Centre. This was worth £13.50.Later that month, between December 17 and 19, the defendant’s offending switched from theft to different forms of crime.He was involved in a series of altercations outside a London Road property where he used to live, with one victim calling the police to tell them Wallace had threatened to stab him.This situation “de-escalated itself” when Wallace left the scene.His next victim said he threatened to kill them, and he had hit a woman’s face with a McDonald’s cheeseburger – resulting in his assault charge.When police detained him, they found a ten-inch kitchen knife in his bag.In mitigation, solicitor George Sorrell said Wallace had the blade because he had been evicted and was going to use it when eating.“He explained that in this way; that having been put out of (his former address), he packed his belongings into a bag, and that included some food, some cheese, some sanitiser because he knew he was going to be homeless, and a kitchen knife.“His idea was that he would use the knife to cut up the cheese, as you would. He did not want to use it in a sinister fashion.”Mr Sorrell highlighted that Wallace’s spree of offending took place within the space of two months, and said that various events in his life contributed to it.The people Wallace lived with at his former London Road address had an “undesirable influence” on him, according to the solicitor, and this culminated in a “disagreement” between December 17-19.The defendant was bitten and scratched by a woman, and he threw the cheeseburger at her in retaliation, the court was told.On Wallace’s various threats, Mr Sorrell said: “He had no intention of carrying them out, but was frustrated and influenced by alcohol.”Moving on to the bike theft, he added: “Thankfully that was recovered undamaged, and he acknowledges that that was a pretty mean thing to do.“I think it has to be said from all this that the defendant is not an accomplished thief. There are cameras there, there are security staff to catch him, and he has been caught.“He is not at all well versed in stealing other people’s property – he doesn’t know how to get away with it.”Mr Sorrell then told magistrates that until four years ago, Wallace had been “happily married” with children.However, he was then divorced and decided that the children should stay with their mother “for their own benefit”.“That is when things started to take a turn for the worse,” Mr Sorrell said.“Before that time, I have checked his record of good character. He has now become dependent on alcohol.“He has become homeless – he is now living in a night shelter.”However, Wallace is now on the verge of being handed accommodation by West Norfolk Council and has a possible job lined up.“So here is a man that until four or five years ago was never in trouble,” Mr Sorrell said.“For some reason or another, he lost all that and began to embark upon a path which led to total despair and culminated in that suspended sentence order which he is now in breach of – and additionally in trouble for different offences.“He has never been to prison before, and there are all sorts of things in place now to help him to lift himself out of the depths of that despair. Everybody is working with him.“The council have given him a flat. He might even get a job. He is working with CGL (Change Grow Live) on his alcohol problem and he hasn’t offended since the last one of these.“It is a sign – he wants to improve his life. He doesn’t want to carry on like this. He hasn’t found himself in a situation like this out of a choice.”Mr Sorrell therefore argued that activating Wallace’s suspended sentence would be unjust, and magistrates agreed.The bench, chaired by Louise Barber, opted instead to extend its operational period by six months.For possession of a knife, they handed Wallace an additional one-year community order. This will require him to complete an accredited programme and up to 24 Rehabilitation Activity Requirement days.An order was made for the blade to be forfeited and destroyed.He was handed a 12-month conditional discharge for his cheeseburger assault, and will pay £25 in compensation to both victims of his harassment and threats.The defendant will also pay £45 to Sainsbury’s and £14 to the Southgates Medical Centre in compensation.“Mr Wallace, we have given you a second chance today,” Ms Barber said.