A MAN who was undergoing a psychotic episode rang police and said he was being followed and threatened.

Blackburn magistrates heard when police responded they found Damon Bell sitting in a bus shelter and they found a knife under where he was sitting.

The court was told the offence put Bell in breach of a suspended sentence order for a similar offence which activated a minimum six months prison requirement.

District Judge Alexandra Preston suspended the sentence after hearing how Bell had turned his life around since the offence was committed in September.

Bell, 37, of Newchurch Road, Bacup, pleaded guilty to possession of a knife in a public place. He was sentenced to 26 weeks in prison suspended for 12 months, made subject to a curfew for 90 days and ordered to complete 20 days rehabilitation activity requirement.

Mark Williams, defending, said his client was in double trouble because he faced the minimum sentence and had committed the offence while subject to a suspended sentence.

“His circumstances have changed dramatically since this offence,” said Mr Williams. “At the time he was living on the street and had been the victim of a serious assault during which he had been stabbed and left with a fractured skull.

“His mental health was running out of control and he had a drug habit. In his words when he was arrested the prospect of being locked up was quite appealing.”

Mr Williams said things had moved on since then. His client had managed to get off the streets and into a hostel and then, with the help of the Probation Service, secured his own flat.

“He got medication to help with his psychosis and had been working with the drug agency,” said Mr Williams.

“He is now drug-free and, while he has not stopped drinking, he has reduced his alcohol intake. He is due to start work for a scaffolding firm next week.”

Mr Williams said no-one else was aware of the knife and his client had called the police himself.

District Judge Preston said in her view Bell had turned his life around. She said at the time Bell was very mentally ill, was not medicated and not in contact with services that could have helped him.