Alan Victor Hymas (47) walked into Cambridge Superstore on Cambridge Drive with the weapon in a rucksack, took it out and told the boss, who knew him well: “Clear the shop.” His sole intention had been to get the police called so he would be arrested, end up in prison and, he hoped, get work to clear his debts, Burnley magistrates heard.
The hearing was told after customers were told to leave, the shopkeeper gave Hymas a “fag and a can of beer” while he waited for officers to arrive. Hymas is now facing custody for the incident on March 31th. He has lived in Burnley and Padiham, rents a property in Hood Street, Accrington, but has recently been staying with family in Padiham. The defendant admitted possessing an offensive weapon in public and the justices committed him to Burnley Crown Court for sentence in June.
Prosecutor Kerry Grieve told the court police received a call from a customer, stating a man had gone in the shop with an axe. The shopkeeper also called police. He said the defendant was asking to be arrested and had not made any threats with the axe.
Police, including a Taser-trained officer, went to the store, but the Taser was not used. Mrs Grieve said Hymas was interviewed. She continued: “He said his intention was to scare and intimidate people. He didn’t remember how many people were in the store. There weren’t any children. He said he had had enough of life.”
Mrs Grieve added: “He has accepted he used the axe to cause fear. It wasn’t necessarily brandished or waved around.”
The court was told Hymas had a record for possessing weapons. He was convicted in 2006 and 2011 and had two previous offences for possessing a bladed article. In May 2013, the defendant was locked up for 23 months at Burnley Crown Court. That court hearing had been told how Hymas, again in possession of an axe, threatened to cut off a petrified man’s head. The crown court heard how the defendant held the 18in. weapon at head height and had told victim Andrew Spencer: “I’ll slit your throat,” as he stood 10ft from him. He had struck within two months of attacking his partner by kneeing her in the stomach, headbutting her in the face and slapping her head.
Geoff Ireland (defending) told the hearing Hymas suffered from depression and had hit rock bottom. “He had lost his job through no fault of his own. He had been working at Holland’s Pies through an agency and they had laid him off. He has some significant debts and decided enough was enough.”
He added: “He put down the weapon and was taken to the police station. He did not intend to use that weapon on anybody or anything.
Mr Ireland went on: “He seems to think he would be better off in prison because at least he would get some work in prison. It’s been pointed out to him he wouldn’t get much money for that.”