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Romsey shopkeeper 'was fighting for life' after man flew into a fit of rage, court hears
A Hampshire shopkeeper was the victim of a terrifying knife attack in front of shocked staff and customers.
David Peacock fought off the attacker who pointed a six to eight inch knife at his chest during the drama in his store.
The shopkeeper grabbed the knife as he feared for his life in the attack by Christopher Ellard, who also sprayed the contents of a fire extinguisher in his face.
The 39-year-old had been abusive and aggressive to staff at Premier Stores in Romsey earlier that day and when he returned about 4pm Mr Peacock asked him to apologise but he refused. Instead he became aggressive and starting yelling at the top of his voice, Southampton Crown Court heard.
Prosecutor Sadie Rozzo said Mr Peacock tried to calm him down but Ellard went into a fit of rage and hurled a sweet rack around. When the owner came from behind the till, Ellard suddenly produced the steak knife.
Fearing he was going to be stabbed, Mr Peacock backed away but became trapped in a corner where Ellard raised the knife and pointed it downwards towards his head and chest.
Mr Peacock was forced to grab hold of the knife with all his strength to prevent it from being plunged into him.
”He felt he was fighting for his life,” said Ms Rozzo. “It went on for a few seconds but it seemed like a long time.”
With the knife still clenched in one hand, Ellard grabbed a fire extinguisher with the other and sprayed the contents into Mr Peacock’s face, making it impossible for him to see and difficult to talk.
Ellard then hurled the extinguisher at him, swore and then left, grabbing a bottle of vodka and a box of washing powder in the process.
Southampton Crown Court heard the drama happened in front of staff and customers, one of whom was so frightened she had to be escorted out of the shop in Mercer Way, Romsey.
Another customer followed Ellard down the road to his house where he was arrested by police who arrived on the scene within minutes.
Mr Peacock said the incident had left him shaking and in a state of shock. It was “a life changing experience.”
Ellard, of Mercer Way, admitted robbery possessing an offensive weapon.
Judge Peter Henry, who read a series of medical reports, was told that Ellard suffered from a psychotic illness with delusions and mood swings. He had previous convictions for arson, burglary, damage and battery which involved unprovoked attacks on strangers, one of whom he had attacked with a hammer.
The judge overruled his wishes for a prison sentence and said he posed a risk of causing serious harm to the public. He then ordered him to be detained at a special hospital for treatment with a direction he cannot be released without the permission of the Secretary of the State.
In mitigation, Justin Hugheston-Roberts said Ellard had received treatment previously but not of sufficient length. “It may be that he is not curable but he is treatable. When he is on medication he is more stable but at the time of the offences he had not been taking his medication and had been drinking which is an explosive combination.”
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