Man threatened to stab Wrexham restaurant workers

Published date: 26 February 2014 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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A HOMELESS man declared he would stab restaurant staff after being told to leave the premises.

Gareth Thomas Freney, 31, of no fixed abode, admitted a public order offence and attempting to steal a charity box from Pizza Hut in Market Street, Wrexham, on Saturday.

He claimed to have taken a legal high called ‘Spice’ and the next thing he recalled was waking up in a police cell.

Flintshire Magistrates Court at Mold heard how he was working with a drugs initiative to try and get his life back on track.

Magistrates gave him a conditional discharge so Freney could keep an appointment with a drugs worker.

The court was told he went in to buy a £7.99 pizza with just £1.

He was told he could not have food for free, so he then asked for a fiver.

When told to leave he said: “I will stab you. You don’t know what I have behind my back.”

He left but as he did so he grabbed at a charity box on the counter which was tied by a chain to a fire extinguisher.

The extinguisher came off the wall but the chain held and he left empty handed, said prosecutor Matthew Ellis.

He was later arrested on suspicion of attempted robbery but was charged with a public order offence and attempted theft.

Huw Roberts, defending, said CCTV showed he had nothing in his hand at the time he spoke to the shop staff.

The defendant had been drinking, he recalled taking a legal high named Spice and knew nothing then until he woke up in a cell and wondered what he was doing there.

He had been released from custody in November and was living on the streets, which had been difficult with the bad weather.

“He has been sleeping in alleyways not knowing whether he would be waking up in the morning,” said Mr Roberts.

Freney’s father in Corwen was very supportive but a restraining order had previously been made not to approach him.

It was an order made by a court without a conviction but which neither the father nor the defendant wanted.

There had been numerous breaches of that order when he attended his father’s home for food and support.

Mr Roberts said Freney was in a vicious circle. He was living on the streets with no identification documents. Without them he could not claim benefits.

Without benefits he could not access housing and without housing he was living on the streets.

“It just goes around and around,” he told the court.

Freney was down to nibbling on people’s discarded food outside Pizza Hut or KFC.

After three months on the streets he had an appointment with a drugs worker who was due to help in a holistic approach to deal with his addictions, housing, benefits and other issues.

He was hoping he could be sentenced immediately so he could keep that appointment but the probation service wanted an adjournment for a full
pre-sentence report.

His client would rather face a short jail sentence than be held in custody pending sentence which would mean he would miss his appointment, he said.

But when magistrates suggested a conditional discharge so he could keep the appointment, Mr Roberts said that seemed the ideal solution.

Magistrates said they would depart from their guidelines and give Freney a conditional discharge for 12 months with £100 costs.

They said it was intended to help him and he should take his chance – but said they could only help him if he helped himself and kept the appointments and took advice.

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