A DRUG addict snatched a package of medication which was being delivered to a Coventry pharmacy, and threatened to stab the driver with a needle when he was challenged.
But in fact, rather than the controlled drugs David Carslaw was hoping to find, all he ended up with was two bottles of cough mixture and a jar of skin cream.
Carslaw (54) of Eccles Close, Henley Green, Coventry, pleaded not guilty at Warwick Crown Court to robbery, but guilty to alternative offences of theft and common assault.
Those pleas were accepted, and he was given a 12-month community order with a rehabilitation activity for 20 days.
Prosecutor Graeme Simpson said that during the early afternoon on November 6 last year a delivery driver parked outside the Wood End Pharmacy in Deedmore Road, Coventry.
As he was unloading boxes he was due to deliver to the pharmacy he noticed that one of them had gone missing.
He saw Carslaw with the box, so went over to him and asked for it back – but Carslaw turned and threatened: “**** off or I’ll stab you with a needle.”
Although no needle was actually produced, the driver understandably feared for his safety and backed away, said Mr Simpson.
Carslaw made off with the box, but two members of staff at the pharmacy had seen the incident and recognised him as a regular customer.
He was later arrested at his home where the police found the box which contained just two bottles of cough mixture and a jar of skin cream.
When he was questioned Carslaw, who had previous convictions going back to 1979, said he had a cocaine addiction, but claimed he had found the box and decided to take it home.
Derek Johashen, defending, said Carslaw, who has been diagnosed as suffering from schizophrenia, had suffered a number of ‘very difficult bereavements.’
His nephew had committed suicide in 2003, his brother died of a heart attack in 2012, and his mother, with whom he lived, died in 2016, which had a severe impact on him, combined with his mental health and drug and alcohol addictions.
“This offence occurred at a time when it was the anniversary of his brother’s death. He was drinking heavily and taking cocaine supplied to him by well-meaning friends.
“He has little recollection of the circumstances, but it was a spur-of-the-moment offence, and he had given no thought to what he was taking. He just saw the box and took it.”
And of the threat to the delivery driver, Mr Johashen pointed out: “The victim never saw a needle, and when the police arrested and searched him, they didn’t find one.”
Sentencing Carslaw, Judge Sylvia de Bertodano told him: “You know you can’t go around doing what you did that day.
“But I am not going to send you to prison because it doesn’t seem to me to be any good to anyone for you to have a short sentence of imprisonment, which is what it would be.
“I very much hope you will take the help offered by the Probation Service.”