A SHOPLIFTER supporting his drug habit threatened staff at two stores who tried to stop him with a hypodermic needle.
And Lee Wykes jabbed one of them with the needle, leaving him with an anxious three months before tests could show he had not been infected with anything.
At Warwick Crown Court Wykes pleaded guilty two offences of theft and two charges of making threats and an alternative offence of assault causing actual bodily harm.
The 38 year-old of Pickard Street, Warwick, was sentenced to 20 months in prison suspended for 12 months after the judge heard he had already spent seven months in custody on remand.
Prosecutor Charles Crinion said on February 1 last year Wykes threatened staff members the TK Maxx store on Leamington Shopping Park when challenged.
As the staff members tried to detain him he pulled out an uncapped hypodermic needle and threatened to stab them.
Wykes dropped four watches he had taken and lunged towards them. As they backed away, he picked up three of the watches and made off on his bike which he had left leaning against the front of the store.
On April 4 the assistant store manager was on duty at Lidl in Myton Road when he saw Wykes, who he recognised because of a previous incident.
Realising he had been seen, Wykes took a bottle of Bacardi from his jacket and put it back on the shelf.
But as he then left the store, something else he had taken set off an alarm, and the assistant manager caught up with him just outside and asked him to hand it back.
Wykes pushed him and, gesturing as though he had something in his hand, although the assistant manager could not see what it was, warned: “I’ll do you with this” before he cycled away.
But when he went back into the store, the assistant manager felt some discomfort, and on rolling up his sleeve he saw a scratch which he said looked like he had had an injection.
His doctor told him to go to hospital where it was confirmed there had been a prick of the skin, and he was given precautionary injections for tetanus and hepatitis, but had to wait three months before tests showed he was in the clear.
Mr Crinion added Wykes had 75 convictions for 233 offences, mainly for shoplifting, but including a ‘threat with a blade or pointed article’ in 2016 when he was challenged after stealing from a shop.
Nick Devine, defending, said the thefts were committed to support Wykes’s long-standing drug addiction, but he had been in custody for seven months since his arrest, his longest spell inside, and had remained drug-free.
Sentencing Wykes, Judge Sylvia de Bertodano told him: ““You were shoplifting, and when people stopped you, you were threatening them with a needle.
“On one occasions, which I accept may have been reckless rather than deliberate, you nicked someone with the needle. That can be very, very frightening for people.
“You have a drug addiction after a very difficult childhood which put you on that road at a very early age.
“I hope now, having been clean for a few months, you should not at your age be going on offending like this. We’re going to give you some help. But the simplest shoplifting offence will put you in breach.”