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'Toxic Terry' back in court

Preston's most notorious vagrant – renowned for swigging petrol and accidentally setting himself alight –has pleaded guilty to breaching his ASBO yet again.

Tramp Terence Ashcroft, nicknamed Toxic Terry for his penchant for sniffing solvents and drinking petrol, admitted using threatening behaviour towards a police officer in March this year.

The 36-year-old has regularly broken the law despite being the subject of three Anti-Social Behaviour Orders.

But Preston Crown Court Judge Edward Slinger deferred sentencing after Ashcroft's counsel Ian Dacre said his behaviour "was improving."

Judge Slinger told him: "You have now had the good sense to plead guilty. You have an enormous number of previous convictions with many for breaches of this ASBO because of your lifestyle."

Ashcroft, who is currently at the Salvation Army hostel in Lawson Street, was remanded on bail to return to court on January 19.

In March 2001 witnesses claimed the tramp – notorious for setting himself on fire – had matches thrown on him in an attempt to kill him after he was found on fire outside Tokyo Jo's nightclub.

The addict – who has a colourful history in the city – was first given a two-year ASBO in December 2001.

Under its conditions, he was prohibited from possessing any petroleum or solvents, making 999 calls other than in an emergency and using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour.

He was even banned from petrol stations to stop him drinking petrol.

Police handed out leaflets outlining the ban to traders across Preston, where he is particularly well-known in the outdoor market area.

The following year the homeless man was jailed for two months for outraging public decency after being caught on camera having sex in the street in the car park outside the Blue Moon pub.

When his ASBO ran out, he had a second one imposed in May 2004 and he has had another since then.

In April 2007 he was jailed after police caught him in possession of an adhesive substance, which put him in breach of the ASBO.

But in May this year a judge at Preston Magistrates Court threw out a case against the solvent abuser for making hoax 999 calls after prosecutors "could not prove he had an ASBO".

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