Jail for Leicester street beggar who asked students for money then produced knife
A street beggar who approached five students asking for money and then produced a knife has been jailed for a year.
Andrew Neal (34) showed the victims his knife, attached to a string around his neck, near the Clock Tower in the city centre.
The students, who were on their way home after a freshers' night out, had earlier refused to give him any cash.
Neal pleaded guilty to a public order offence and possessing a knife, on September 27.
Cheap Van Insurance For 17,18 & 19 Year Old Drivers - Call Insure365 01782 898188, Free Legal Protection Cover Included valued at £25.00!
Terms: 1 Voucher Per Customer
Contact: 01782 898188
Valid until: Monday, June 24 2013
Philip Gibbs, prosecuting at Leicester Crown Court, said: "Neal produced a knife with a 2in blade from inside his jacket. He flicked it open and told the students to 'shut up'.
"He asked the whole group if they had change."
Eventually one of them gave him 40 pence. Mr Gibbs said: "He told them he carried the knife for self-defence."
He then claimed he had another knife.
Mr Gibbs said: "The students walked away. There were about 100 people in the vicinity."
Neal, of Woodgate, Leicester, was arrested shortly afterwards.
Louise McGhee, mitigating, said: "The knife was tied around his neck.
"He carried it as a self-defence mechanism, which is never appropriate.
"He felt threatened by the situation he'd created.
"There was never any suggestion of him using it."
Sentencing, Judge Ebraham Mooncey said: "The most serious matter is the knife.
"New students who came to this city to study were out on a freshers' evening and were accosted by you.
"You were asking for money, which is perhaps annoying for them.
"You didn't restrict it to one quick ask, but were persistent.
"You showed them a knife.
"Although it was on a lanyard around your neck, anything could have happened if your mood changed or if someone who saw it took umbrage and reacted to it."
Neal also admitted two breaches of failing to comply with the requirements of a sex offenders' register, by failing to confirm his address with police, in relation to a previous conviction for an indecent assault in 2002.