A man who threatened a Good Samaritan with a hypodermic needle while high on spice has been given a chance to mend his ways before being sentenced.
Alexander Austin, of no fixed abode, swung out at security guard Eleanor Bartlett with a needle when she tried to calm him down in Pavilion Gardens on a July afternoon.
At Hove Crown Court this morning, Austin, 50, told judge David Rennie he was “gutted” at his actions – but said he was keen to clean up his act.
He said: “I’m gutted. I’m upset with myself. The lady in question has helped me countless times when she’s found me sleeping in parts of The Lanes. She will get me a roll and a coffee and I’ll help her open up shops.
“On this particular day I had been with some friends in town and one of them gave me a roll up. I took six or seven puffs and I don’t remember much else except being held by police in Pavilion Gardens.
“I got told later that there was some spice in it.
“They said I had swung out at the lady which I couldn’t understand.
“I have made a mistake, I never thought I would strike out, especially at a woman. This was a one off and should never have happened and I hope she doesn’t give in her job because she’s such a nice person, out of all the security in town.”
He said he had been in rehab and had spent the majority of the last five years clean and well behaved.
But in May this year, just days before he was due to start another spell in rehab, he was arrested for setting fire to another rough sleeper’s bedding on the seafront, which he denied doing.
The police later decided not to take any further action, he said, but by then his place had gone.
Judge Rennie, who brought Austin into the witness stand to question him, decided to defer sentencing for three months to give Austin a chance to comply with two existing community sentences.
These were passed earlier this year for shoplifting and theft, and included rehabilitation and drug rehabilitation requirements.
In total, Austin has 63 previous convictions for 136 offences over the last 30 years, many committed during a long history of homelessness. They include theft, public order offences and drug offences.
He has been in custody since the Pavilion Gardens attack on 15 July, but he told the court a friend has agreed to put him up at his drink and drug free home in Brighton if he is released.
Judge Rennie said: “I am trying to work out if I’m making a really stupid mistake. If you get yourself straight again with probation, there’s a chance you could put this right.
I’m inclined to put the ball in your court. There will be a prison sentence but whether I can suspend it or not depends on you.”
Of Ms Bartlett, he said: “She’s a remarkable woman and helps people left, right and centre when she can, I am sure. It must have been a shock to her.”
The sentencing was adjourned to Friday, December 13 and Austin has been released on bail.
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