April 27, 2021 1.56 pm

Gas sniffer jailed after holding up trains in Lincoln

He walked down the train tracks sniffing gas canisters he’d stolen

A shop thief caused trains to be held up for 45 minutes after stealing cans of butane gas and then walking onto the railway line sniffing the contents, Lincoln Crown Court was told.

Dominic Norris took two canisters of the gas from behind the counter of the Poundland store in High Street, Lincoln, and then barged a member of staff out of the way before leaving without paying.

Tom Heath, prosecuting, said that police were called and found Norris near the city’s Brayford level crossing.

Mr Heath said: “The defendant walked onto the train tracks and started sniffing the gas canisters he had just stolen.

“He began to walk down the train track. The police officers decided it was too dangerous to follow him. British Transport Police were contacted and the line had to be shut down for about 45 minutes. Two trains had to be stopped.”

Norris was subsequently arrested and when he was searched he was found to have a home-made weapon of a snooker ball hidden inside a sock.

Norris had previously been arrested earlier the same month for a number of other offences.

On November 17 he was detained after police were called out to reports of a man armed with a knife at the junction of High Street and Foster Street. He was searched and a lock knife was found on him.

Just two days later he was stopped by security staff when he tried to leave the Tesco Express store on High Street without paying for a box of beer. During the incident that followed Norris struck a security guard.

He then made his way to the Iceland store on High Street and tried to leave without paying for two bottles of vodka. He was stopped by a security guard who managed to retrieve one of the bottles. Norris started to drink from the second bottle and then lay on the ground blocking the entrance.

The security officer asked him to move as he was blocking the entrance but Norris responded by pouring the contents of the vodka bottle over both himself and the security officer before trying to set light to himself.

Norris went on to punch the security officer in the groin. Police arrived at the scene and he was arrested.

The court was told that Norris has 148 previous convictions for a total of 280 offences.

Norris, 40, who was homeless at the time, admitted obstructing the railway, possession of an offensive weapon, theft and common assault as a result of the incidents on November 26 at Poundland and on the railway line.

He also admitted two common assaults, theft and attempted theft on November 19 and possession of a bladed article on November 17. He was jailed for a total of 18 months.

Leanne Summers, in mitigation, said that Norris wanted to receive a prison sentence so that he can sort out his life.

“When he isn’t in custody he is homeless and he armed himself to protect himself.

“Reaching the age of 40 has been something of a wake-up call for him. He feels he needs to spend some time in custody in order to positively change his life and circumstances. In the community he is described as vulnerable.

“He is best placed at the moment in custody where he feels he is taking the right steps towards a life where, when he is released, he will hopefully come out drug and crime free. He hopes to leave Lincoln when he is released and make a fresh start.”

Recorder Michael Auty QC told him: “There is no choice for me other than to send you to prison. It is what you ask me to do and I’m driven to do it because there is no alternative.

“In many ways I do it with the heaviest of hearts. Anybody reading the psychiatric report and learning of your background could not fail to have some measure of sympathy towards you for the kind of life you have lived thus far. Some may say it is no life at all. Most people loath prison but you positively thrive there.”

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