Man who brandished knife at Cheltenham Ladies Day avoids jail time
A reveller who brandished a knife during a drink-fuelled dispute outside Cheltenham Festival has avoided prison.
Harry Hicks, 58, went to Ladies Day – day two of the famous race meeting – with friends, and during an argument pulled the black-handled kitchen knife from his pocket and brandished it at others.
Police were immediately alerted and Hicks was arrested by armed officers and led away.
Gloucester Crown Court heard the father-of-four had the knife, as well as a fork, because he suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder and wanted his own cutlery to eat with.
The divorcee, who cares for an elderly parent full-time, also suffers from anxiety and depression and does not go out much, the court heard.
At a previous hearing, Hicks, of Cloudesley Road, Islington, north London, pleaded guilty to possession of a bladed article in a public place on March 13.
Passing sentence, Recorder Kate Brunner QC said she had been considering an immediate custodial sentence but had changed her mind after hearing of the “unusual circumstances”.
“You attended Cheltenham Racecourse and during a confrontation with a group of men, who I accept were known to you, you became angry – so angry that you were being held back,” she said.
“You reached into your pocket and pulled out a knife and pointed it before putting it back. What you did so alarmed witnesses at the scene the police were informed and arrested you.
“You accept that you had both a knife and fork with you. I accept from you, when you took the knife out it was out of swagger and bravado and not to use on any person.”
The recorder said Hicks had a “particular issue with cleanliness of food” and had taken his own knife and fork with him.
“It was an extraordinarily stupid act to take it with you and secondly to take it out of your pocket,” she said.
“This was committed with a risk of serious disorder and, regardless of your intention, it was one where tensions were running high and many people could have been hurt.
“It was a situation where a serious incident could have been triggered by your stupidity in bringing with you the knife.
“It was my intention before I heard from you and the probation service that you would be leaving this court in a prison van. That is what usually happens to people that pull out knives in public.
“I have just decided that is appropriate to suspend the sentence in your case.”
She said Hicks was a full-time carer for an elderly parent and also looked after his brother who was in poor health.
“You are of good character and the background of this offending is unusual, and I accept the unusual circumstances related to your obsessive compulsive disorder,” she added.
“You will not, I know, carry a bladed article with you again.”
Hicks received an eight-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months, and was ordered to carry out 40 hours’ unpaid work.