A knife-wielding thief who led police on a terrifying car chase was spared prison after a judge said it would encourage him to commit more crimes in the future.
Vincent Stonier, 23, threatened to slash his own throat after he was cornered by police following a chase down country roads.
Officers persuaded him to drop the knife before arresting him.
He admitted dangerous driving, theft and possession of a bladed article when he appeared at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court on Monday (9/5).
But he walked free from court after being handed a suspended sentence after a judge said sending him to prison would mean he was “more likely to commit offences.”
Recorder Simon Ward said: “Dangerous driving while trying to escape from the police was serious.
“Using a knife to stop the police arresting you by threatening to cut yourself was also serious.
“But, reading the pre-sentence report, I started to get a different side of the picture.
“I have come to the conclusion that if I sent you to prison, the damage that is likely to do is considerable.
“You would come out more damaged than you are today and more likely to commit offences.”
Stonier, of Leek, Staffs., was sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for two years.
He was also banned from driving for 12 months, given a two-year mental health treatment requirement order, and a 12-month alcohol treatment requirement, and also ordered to do 20 days of a rehabilitation activity.
The court heard Stonier stole a bottle of £10 whisky from Aldi in Stoke-on-Trent on March 9.
When officers spotted him and recognised his description given by the shop staff they tried to pull him over.
But prosecutor Jonathan Turner said: “Rather than stopping, he extended his middle finger, indicating at them.
“He revved his engine at the police and beeped his horn. He drove off and police began a chase.
“He drove through red traffic lights, swerving round other vehicles and going on the wrong side of the road.”
The pursuit continued through the Moorlands countryside, with Stonier eventually reaching Belmont Road, Ipstones.
Another police car approached from the opposite direction and it was too narrow for them to pass so Stonier backed up and got out of the car.
He then pulled a kitchen knife out of his pocket and held it to his throat in a stand-off with the police.
Mr Turner told the court: “He said he would slit his throat if they came near him.
“The defendant then took a drink from the whisky bottle.
“Eventually, police managed to convince him to let go of the knife and they arrested him.”
The court heard that while in custody, Stonier spat at an officer and gave a ‘no comment’ interview.
Stuart Muldoon, defending, said Stonier is receiving ongoing psychiatric support.