Knifeman '˜being let down by mental health service', say police

A prolific offender with a mental age of ten who was armed with knife has been 'let down' by health chiefs - according to police who arrested him, a court heard.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 29th February 2016, 5:00 am
Keith Parkin, leaving South Tyneside Magistrates' Court.
Keith Parkin, leaving South Tyneside Magistrates' Court.

Keith Parkin, who has a lengthy list of criminal convictions, landed himself back in the dock after telling officers he was carrying the six-inch blade for his own protection but feared he “might hurt someone”.

The 30-year-old, of John Williamson Street, South Shields, was arrested and charged with possession of the kitchen knife but a judge has been told that police are growing increasingly concerned over his behaviour - and want health services to do more to help him.

Jeanette Smith, prosecuting, handed over a letter from the police to District Judge Helen Cousins at South Shields Magistrates Court, calling for Parkin to be given a mental health assessment prior to sentencing.

She said: “Police are concerned about him and the fact he continues to offend.

“They believe he is being let down by health services, who are not doing as much as they can to help him.”

Parkin, who suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, was jailed for two weeks last October for criminal damage and was placed on the sex offenders register after sexually assaulting a woman in July.

He was also slapped with a community order last June after sending a naked picture of himself to a woman on Facebook and received a suspended jail sentence in April 2014 for making a string of hoax calls to the fire service.

His parents, Colin and Linda Parkin, have previously said their son requires round-the-clock support for mental health issues which they say leave him unable to cope with everyday life.

They have expressed concern over his ability to live independently in the community after he had previously spent seven years in supervised accommodation.

Parkin’s latest brush with the law came after he called to alert them he was carrying a knife as he believed people were ‘after him’.

Parkin admitted possession of a bladed article.

Jeanette Smith, prosecuting, handed over a letter from the police to District Judge Helen Cousins calling for Parkin to be given a mental health assessment prior to sentencing.

Mrs Smith said: “Police attended Westoe Road on Wednesday, February 3, and spoke to the defendant who had reported finding a knife in the street. He produced the kitchen knife from his pocket.

“He later admitted he had taken the knife from his home for his own protection as he thinks people are after him. He said he was worried he might hurt someone.”

Christopher Brown, defending, said: “There are matters which need careful and considered attention. Sending him to custody is not the solution to helping him cope and understand.

“This is an extraordinary set of circumstances. His psychiatrist says he has a fluctuating mental capacity. Sometimes he is fully aware of what he is doing but a lot of the time he falls below par in that regard.

“Having a knife in the street is a dangerous situation.”

District Judge Cousins adjourned the case for a mental health assessment to be carried out ahead of sentencing.

Parkin was granted bail until his sentencing date on March 16.