Man who wielded axe and air rifle in St Neots is handed hospital order

Cambridge Crown Court.

Cambridge Crown Court. - Credit: Archant

A court has heard that a man who carried an axe and an air rifle in St Neots was “mentally unwell at the time of the offences” and handed him a hospital order.

Cornelius Smith, of Dukes Road, Eaton Socon appeared at Cambridge Crown Court on February 3 after pleading guilty to possession of an air rifle in a public place, possession of an axe in a public place and attempted robbery.

Smith, who was diagnosed by doctors, after the offences, as having paranoid schizophrenia with an alcohol and drug problem, walked around the streets of the town and pointed the air rifle at houses and at members of the public.

On July 2 last year, witnesses saw Smith carrying the air rifle in Marchioness Way, Eaton Socon, and pointing it at a row of houses.

Caroline Allison, prosecuting, said: “Another witness saw Smith place the rifle in a bin and point the rifle back towards her and then walk away.”

The court heard that Smith let off the air rifle later in the day and was described as “looking blank and vacant” at the time.

Armed police were called to the scene and Smith was found in an underpass near the A1.

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Mrs Allison added: “He did not appear to understand the instructions they were giving him.”

Smith then ran off and the police lost him when he ran into some undergrowth. He was later arrested at his home but was given bail.

The next day, the 25-year-old was seen hacking at a tree with an axe and staring at a number of people, he then proceeded to walk around the area with the axe.

Judge David Farrell QC was told that police were contacted and schools were called and put on lock-down as a safety precaution.

Smith was then arrested again and has been retained in custody or in hospital since.

In January last year Smith attempted steal a mobile phone from a victim and threatened to stab him.

Mrs Allison said: “Smith walked up to the victim and asked him ‘have you got my money for me’.”

“The victim responded and said ‘mate, I don’t know you and I haven’t got any money’ and Smith responded ‘give me your phone’,” added Mrs Allison.

The victim then walked away from Smith and put his mobile phone in his pocket and entered his home where the police were called.

Smith was arrested for the attempted robbery but later released on bail.

During sentencing judge Farrell referred to doctors’ reports carried out on Smith, he said: “It is absolutely plain from these two reports and earlier reports I’ve seen that you were mentally unwell at the time of these offences and needed treatment.” Smith was given a hospital order and was sent to continue treatment in Cambridge.

Mr Farrell added: “This is the most suitable way of dealing with you as from a public perspective you receive the treatment that you need and from your perspective you receive the treatment you need.”