A KNIFEMAN who threatened police and shop staff with a dangerous weapon has been jailed for 17 months.

Burnley Crown Court heard how well-educated Raja Khan, 39, had fallen victim to a heroin addiction and turned to crime. The defendant, said to have gained a doctorate in America, was so desperate he told police on arrest: "I wish you had the death penalty in this country. I want to die."

Khan, who had ended up being CS gassed after brandishing a steak knife, was jailed by Judge Barbara Watson, who said his actions must have frightened people and it was good fortune nobody was injured.

The judge added Khan had got an "appalling" record due to his overwhelming drugs habit.

The defendant, of New Hall Street, Burnley, had admitted two counts of theft, two of failing to surrender, possessing an offensive weapon and affray.

Howard Bradshaw, defending , said Khan claimed he carried the knife for his own protection. He was not actually violent but made threats. The defendant had a long-standing drug addiction and at the time was using four to six bags of heroin a day.

Mr Bradshaw said Khan claimed he came from a good background in Pakistan, had taken a doctorate in the USA and came to this country between 1990 and 1991. The defendant was convicted of his first offence when he was 33 and since then had been before the courts with depressing frequency.

The barrister said Khan was nearing 40 and knew he could not go on in the same way. He went on: "This defendant's life, if not in ruins, is in very much of a mess. There is some recognition that his life has reached the low ebb."