A man who was so desperate for mental health support that he resorted to smashing a supermarket’s windows in a bid to get help has been spared jail by a judge who wished him “the best of luck” for the future.
Darren Lee, 37, caused £15,000 worth of damage after smashing nine windows with a claw hammer at Tesco in Middleton town centre early last month.
Days later, he attempted to smash the windows at Tesco in Blackley, before smashing a number of windows at Middleton Arena two weeks later. On all three occasions, he waited for police to arrive at the scene to arrest him, before pleading with them for psychiatric help for anxiety and depression.
Mr Lee, of Oldham Road, Middleton, was sentenced at Minshull Street Crown Court, after admitting two charges of criminal damage and one of attempted criminal damage at an earlier hearing. Criminal damage offences where more than £5,000 of damage is caused can carry a jail term, but Recorder Samantha Presland refused to give Mr Lee a custodial sentence, telling the court it was clear that his actions were an attempt to get attention and help, and that she believed jailing him or giving him a suspended sentence would have a significant impact on his recovery.
The court also heard that Mr Lee was seen by a psychiatric professional after the first incident, but this had not been successful. Recorder Presland said: “He was told, in effect to ‘man up’. This resulted in him committing another offence.”
The court heard that Mr Lee had been drinking heavily at the time of the incidents, but has since cut back significantly after receiving support from his GP and an alcohol worker.
Recorder Presland added: