Man sparked EIGHT-HOUR police stand-off after being spotted with knife in South Shields street

A suspected drug user sparked an overnight armed police stand-off after approaching a teenage neighbour while armed with a knife in a street.
The case was heard at South Tyneside Magistrates' Court.The case was heard at South Tyneside Magistrates' Court.
The case was heard at South Tyneside Magistrates' Court.

Benjamin Saleh, 26, told his shocked victims, “Are you hacking my phone? Are you hacking my internet?” outside the teen’s parents’ home in Talbot Road, South Shields.

They told him he was mistaken but feared he had made the accusation due to taking illegal substances, magistrates in South Tyneside heard.

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As Saleh turned to walk back to his property two doors away, a Samurai sword-type knife was seen in his right hand.

Police were alerted and raced to the scene at 9.30pm on Friday, July 19 last year, and were soon supported by armed units.

An eight-hour stand-off ensued before they broke down his doors - and Saleh was found in a neighbouring yard.

Prosecutor Clare Irvine said a search of his home revealed a Milbro 177 Classic air pistol, in breach of a five-year firearms ban.

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Saleh has avoided being jailed despite committing the knife offence while subject to a two-year suspended prison sentence for assault, which had just 11 days left to run.

Magistrates instead imposed a 12-month community order after hearing he had been diagnosed with psychosis and was turning his life around.

Ms Irvine said the teenager had been out with her boyfriend and was looking through her handbag for her keys when the incident happened.

The prosecutor said: “The defendant came over. He said, ‘Are you hacking my phone? Are you hacking my internet?’

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“They told him, ‘Are you joking’? They thought he may have been on drugs.

“He then walked back home, and it was at this time that he was seen to be holding a knife with a green and black handle in his right hand.

“She didn’t see him threaten her with the knife, but she got back into the house as quickly as she could.

“Police arrived and then armed officers were deployed. It’s around 6am when they forced open the front and back doors.

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“He had dropped into a neighbouring property. He was arrested.”

When interviewed, and despite the incident being caught on CCTV, Saleh replied, “I don’t know what you’re talking about’.

He denied being out of the house with a weapon and claimed not to have made the phone hacking allegation, it was said.

Joanne Gatens, defending, said Saleh had been an isolated individual and a former cannabis and amphetamine user who was now diagnosed with psychosis.

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She added: “This man is not the man who presented to police in July 2019. He has changed his life around.”

Magistrates imposed an 8pm to 8am curfew on him until September 22 and ordered he pay his female victim £50 compensation.

The community order has a requirement of 20 days of rehabilitation work with the Probation Service and 40 hours of unpaid work.

Saleh, who pleaded guilty to possessing an offensive weapon and possessing a firearm while prohibited, must pay a £85 victim surcharge and £85 court costs.

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Read more: The South Shields streets where most crime is reported

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