Knifeman confronted strangers with machete near The Galleries

A knifeman who confronted strangers with a machete while demanding money from them in the street has been jailed.

Monday, 25th November 2019, 3:09 pm
Updated Tuesday, 26th November 2019, 1:46 am

Liam Steele brandished the weapon, which had a foot-long blade, when he approached a group of four men who were walking near the Galleries in Washington in April and ordered them to hand over cash.

Newcastle Crown Court heard two victims suffered cuts in the early evening attack but "mercifully" were not seriously injured.

No cash was handed over by the victims, despite the violence they faced.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Liam Steele

Mr recorder Neil Haythorne told Steele: "This incident must have been an utterly terrifying one for the victims.

"Mercifully, the physical injuries you inflicted were not serious but I take the view the effect of the psychological harm was not minimal."

Steele, 24, of Waterloo Walk, Sulgrave, admitted two offences of attempted robbery, having an article with a blade and assault in relation to the attack.

He also pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicle taking, driving without insurance or a licence, failing to stop and failing to report an accident.

The court heard the driving offences happened a week after the attempted robberies and involved Steele taking to the car keys to a Mercedes, which was later found written off after it left the road and crashed.

Steele also admitted possessing two knives at Sports Direct in Sunderland, where a customer had reported that they believed he was armed, in July.

He initially claimed he had "seen them on the floor and picked them up to keep them safe".

Steele has now been jailed for a total of five years and four months.

The court heard Steele is "intelligent with good grade GCSEs" but had a very difficult childhood and has long standing issues with his mental health.

Jennifer Coxon, defending, said: "He is a well mannered,, well spoken, mature man when he is not on drugs.

"He is very understanding of the risks of the offences he has committed."