A MAN behaved like “an animal” when staff and a member of the public tried to stop him from stealing from a shop.

Blackburn magistrates heard Michael Spencer bit a man delivering to the shop who helped to detain him until police arrived. The victim needed hospital treatment for a deep gash to his thumb which bled heavily.

Spencer, 40, of Albert Road, Barnoldswick, admitted to assaulting Liam Salt and theft from Keelham Farm Shop, Skipton.

He was given a 26-week suspended prison term with an alcohol treatment programme and 20 rehab activity days. He was ordered to pay £250 compensation to Mr Salt.

District Judge Alexandra Preston said: “You used excessive self-defence. I accept you reacted to being restrained and your reaction was affected by your previous experiences and your significant mental health difficulties.”

Nicola Mills, prosecuting, said a female assistant at the shop had seen Spencer, who had stolen from them before, putting items in his bag and trying to leave without paying. 

“She blocked his exit and he tried to push past her,” said Miss Mills. “Mr Salt, who was delivering goods to the shop, and another colleague came to her assistance.”

Mr Salt was holding Salt but eased his grip when the defendant said he was struggling to breath.

“As soon as he did that the defendant lunged at Mr Salt and bit down hard on his thumb,” said Miss Mills. “It bled heavily and he went to hospital for treatment.”

Gareth Price, defending, said his client suffered from PTSD as a result of childhood violence.

“He concedes that whatever they were doing to restrain him was justified and his reaction was not,” said Mr Price.