Sunderland pensioner jailed after pulling knife on supermarket staff

Mason was jailed on Tuesday.

Mason was jailed on Tuesday.

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A knife-wielding pensioner from Sunderland who threatened staff during a shoplifting expedition has been sent to prison.

Thomas Mason, 67, brandished a six-inch blade he had pinched - along with other items - from Penrith's Morrisons store in Cumbria on May 27.

Carlisle Crown Court heard Mason was a prolific criminal with 266 convictions on a rap sheet which dated back to the 1960s.

He was sentenced this week by Judge Peter Davies having admitted his latest three crimes. These were the possession of a bladed article, theft and threatening behaviour.

Mason was said to have been confronted by a Morrisons store detective and manager having stolen alcohol, a deep fat fryer and light bulbs.

Prosecutor Francis McEntee told the court on Tuesday that Mason was initially calm before becoming agitated when police were mentioned.

"He pulled a knife from his right-hand side and pointed it at the two employees. He shouted that they should stop following," said Mr McEntee.

Having been the threatened a second time, the duo backed off.

The incident was said to have left the store detective feeling "threatened and shocked."

Mason, of Hylton Road, Sunderland, was described as having mental health issues and depression. He had also been "troubled" by events in his past.

Kim Whittlestone, defending, said Mason had been living "almost literally a vagrant lifestyle".

She added: "It is extremely sad that a man of his age finds himself back before the court for these offences."

Judge Davies sent Mason to prison for 16 months, and said: "You have an appalling record. You should have left your previous convictions long behind you.

"You must go to custody. Store detectives are entitled not to be threatened. They are certainly entitled not to be threatened by people carrying knives."