A Kettering crack cocaine and heroin addict who threatened innocent people with a knife he pulled from his waistband in Northampton town centre has avoided jail after a judge said prison wouldn't help tackle his addiction.
Harvinder Bhakar, 40, pulled a knife on a driver who challenged him while he was trying to steal items from his car in Silver Street, Northampton, on the morning of August 20 last year. He waved the knife towards the man shouting 'I'll kill you."
Then later that day, he was seen trying to break into another car. He was challenged and said "I'm only trying to make a living." As he walked away he was followed by the car owner and a friend and he again pulled a knife out of his waistband.
He later stashed the serrated-edge knife down the side of a water cooler at a substance abuse centre in Northampton where it was found and confiscated by police.
Speaking about one of the victims, prosecutor Lynsey Knott said: "He was genuinely in fear that he was going to use the knife on him."
Northampton Crown Court heard that Bhakar had previous violent offences on his record and had been jailed for four years in 2004, then for eight years for robberies and possession of a firearm. He also had convictions for ABH, for stealing a motor vehicle and for possession of a blade in 2001.
The sentencing starting point for the latest offences is 15 months in jail but Recorder David Mason QC said that Bhakar had managed to get off drugs and was now only taking a small amount of methadone.
"He's not afraid of a prison sentence," he said.
"The last time he had a drug treatment and testing order was in 2001 but since then he's had very lengthy prison sentences that have not included drug treatment.
"If he's suitable for a drug rehabilitation requirement (DRR) then that would be a preferable way of dealing with him.
"Looking at the defendant he looks as if he's pretty clean to me.
"You have committed offences to feed your addiction. The court would like to help you stop offending.
"If we sent you to jail.. you'd be out in four months and would be back to the same problems you've had for twenty or so years.
"Forty is not too old to start again."
For two offences of threatening with a bladed article and one attempted theft, Bhakar was ordered to serve a ten month prison sentence, suspended for two years. He was told he must live at Bath Road in Kettering and was given a 9pm to 6am curfew policed by an electronic tag. He was also ordered to complete a three month drug rehabilitation requirement and up to 30 days of rehabilitation activity.
After sentencing, addressing the judge, Bhaktar said: "I'l try my best, that's all I can do. Thank you for recognising."