Dad’s knife rampage left people in fear for their lives

A knife-wielding father has been jailed following two rampages in which he left people fearing for their lives.

Homeless Andrew Haile, 40, who sleeps in a tent in the Penzance area, appeared at Truro Crown Court for sentencing having previously pleaded guilty to three offences.

Haile admitted two counts of having a bladed article in a public place, and one charge of criminal damage.

Prosecuting, Piers Norsworthy told the court that the first incident took place in the late afternoon on December 4 last year, when Haile was walking around Alverton Road in Penzance shouting and swearing at pedestrians and people in their vehicles.

Haile threatened two moped riders, before producing a knife. He continued to walk until he came across a man in a Ford Transit, which he damaged by hammering on the bonnet, causing over £1,000 of damage.

Haile, with the knife still in his hand, then walked to a nearby shop, where he frightened a female customer who had just left the premises.

Eventually, two men attempted to stop Haile in his tracks and force him to drop the knife. One of the men had a sledge hammer in his vehicle and repeatedly told Haile to place the knife on the floor.

Haile threatened to stab both men but became frightened enough to drop the knife when the man threatened to use the sledge hammer.

Haile, who was drunk, was pinned to the floor by one of the men and arrested by arriving police officers. Haile continued to rant, shouting “stop looking at me or I’ll cut you up” at onlookers.

The court heard that the incident lasted around 30 minutes and happened in the vicinity of children. Several members of the public who were threatened by Haile said his behaviour had frightened them.

One of the men said in a victim impact statement: “I was concerned for children who were by the chop shop, and I believed he was ready and capable of using the knife on me or somebody else.”

Another witness added: “I genuinely feared for my life. I kept reliving it and wondering what if it had gone wrong and he came for me.”

Nearly four months later, on March 26, Haile went on another rampage while again armed with a knife.

This time Haile was in the area of Penzance railway station and Market Jew Street where he told people he was looking for a particular homeless person he wanted to stab.

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Haile was swiftly arrested, but was aggressive and abusive to police officers. He continued his poor behaviour while being booked in at a custody centre.

The March incident but him in breach of a conditional discharge issued by a court in January 2020 for separate offences to the ones Haile was sentenced for.

The court heard from a probation officer, who told the judge that Haile suffered from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and unresolved emotional trauma due to a traumatic childhood.

Haile, who was a self-employed joiner until the offences occurred, was tearful and remorseful while telling the probation officer about his past.

Haile’s mental demons led him down a path of taking cocaine and drinking excessively, the officer said. He had made unsuccessful attempts to deal with his problems through alcohol treatment programmes and mental health services.

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Rupert Taylor, for the defence, fought hard to keep Haile out of prison.

He argued that were Haile to retain his liberty, the assistance of services available to him to address his drinking, his aggression and the trauma of his past.

“The defendant seeks to offer a profound apology, and the best evidence of contrition are the pleas entered as they were,” Mr Taylor said.

Recorder Richard Mawhinney, sitting as judge, said the guidelines left him with no choice but to impose an immediate custodial sentence.

Sentencing Haile to 21 months in prison, he told him: “These are very serious matters. Wielding a knife in a town street in the daytime is really serious stuff.

“I hope that when you come out you are able to rehabilitate and Cornwall [Council] can give you support and accommodation that’s not in a tent, and you can use the public services to help you with your problems.”

Cornwall Live