A man struggling with his mental health told hospital workers he had ‘killed his neighbour’ when he brought two meat cleavers to a hospital.

Lee Watts, of Cross Street, Briercliffe, has been spared jail because of how badly he was suffering with his mental health when he went to two hospital appointments with weapons.

Beth Pilling, prosecuting, told Preston Crown Court how Watts went to an appointment for his mental health at Royal Blackburn Hospital on March 27.

While at the appointment, he told staff he had a weapon in his bag and pulled out two meat cleavers before telling staff he had killed his neighbour – but he had not.

Staff asked him to leave, which he did, and while searching him, police found the weapons in his bag.

He was released and on April 19 and while on bail, he went to an appointment, again for his mental health at Pendle Community Hospital in Nelson.

He pulled out a knife on the end of a wooden pole, talking about difficulties he had with his neighbour.

Police were called, and Watts was arrested and taken into custody where he has remained for five months.

It mitigation, Niamh McGinty said Watts was suffering with ‘delusions and hallucinations’ due to his paranoid schizophrenia.

Ms McGuinty said his mental health was the reason for his offending and the incidents were a ‘misguided attempt’ and a ‘cry for help’.

She said: “Mr Watts had no intention of harming anyone. He was acutely unwell like he told people at the time. The only person he would have hurt was himself.

“He took the weapons to two mental health appointments to show the state he was in at the time.

“This was a cry for help in the hope staff would see how dire his mental health was at the time.”

Since his time in custody, he has been on medication and his mental health has improved dramatically, with Ms McGuinty saying he is now in a condition where he can be ‘managed in the community’.

Sentencing, Recorder Daniel Prowse said it is clear how badly Watts was suffering with his mental health at the time, and since his first appearance in court he could see a clear improvement which was significant enough to spare him jail.

Watts, who pleaded guilty to possession of an offensive weapon and possession of a bladed article, in relation to the April offence, and was found guilty of possession of a bladed article for the March offence, was handed an 18-month sentence, suspended for 18 months.

He must work with mental health teams and the probation service to continue his treatment.