A shoplifter has been banned from Westquay after pulling out a knife and waving it about.

Pawel Swiatek, 38, took out the three-inch curved blade after he was confronted by security staff.

He had previously been kicked out for stealing jeans from Zara which he was wearing beneath his clothes, a court heard.

Despite being asked to leave, Swiatek returned to Westquay twice. 

The first time he made a threatening gesture to staff while the second time he pulled out a knife.

Prosecuting, Keely Harvey said Swiatek pulled the blade from his rear right pocket close to John Lewis whilst “lots of shoppers” were around.

He then began waving it around, standing just one foot away from a member of staff who feared he was going to get cut.

Staff even put up a barrier to separate Swiatek and his friend from other shoppers.

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Ms Harvey added: “Both of the males, this defendant and his friend, appeared to be under the influence of drink.”

The police were called and Swiatek was arrested.

When interviewed, he claimed he had the knife because he was homeless and would use it to strip copper wire which he would then sell for scrap.

Daily Echo: Westquay shopping centreWestquay shopping centre (Image: Newsquest)

“He stated that it was not carried to hurt anything with or threaten anybody,” Ms Harvey added.

Swiatek, who has no previous convictions in the UK or in his home country of Poland, pleaded guilty to possession of a bladed article in a public place and four public order offences.

These relate to threats he made to staff during the ordeal on February 23.

Mitigating, Annabel Hazlitt said her client understands the consequences of his actions and was “entirely reliant on alcohol” at the time.

“He was involved with some deeply unpleasant people in Southampton.

“He felt threatened to have a knife.

“[This is] a man who clearly has something to give to this country but also someone that is really struggling with substance abuse.”

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Swiatek, who now lives with his brother in Fareham and works as a gardener, was sleeping in a deserted pub at the time.

He was jailed for 12 months at Southampton Crown Court on Wednesday and banned from Westquay Shopping Centre for two years.

Judge Gary Burrell KC, sitting as a deputy circuit judge, said: “This was an area where there were ordinary people going about their business.

“It was a very frightening incident for the staff and those who witnessed it.”