A robber with a ‘dreadful’ rap sheet has been given a final chance to get himself clean – or face years behind bars.

Andrew Lennon, 40, threatened staff at the Walton Street Co-op with a multi-tool knife after they tried to stop him swiping a bottle of wine from the Jericho store three days after Christmas last year.

Police later found him with the partly-drunk booze bottle and the Swiss Army knife.

On Wednesday, Oxford Crown Court heard that Lennon had been deemed suitable for the Oxfordshire residential rehab programme – giving convicted criminals a chance to take part in a gruelling drug rehabilitation scheme instead of spending yet more time behind bars.

Passing a three year community order with a two year drug rehabilitation requirement, Judge Ian Pringle QC told the robber: “This is your chance to turn your life around. You may not see some of the old people you used to see but that may not be a bad thing. You have to realise you are going to change your life completely.

“You are going to rid yourself of this long running addiction to alcohol and drugs and you are going to make yourself a much better person for it."

Having earlier described Lennon's record of 27 convictions for 51 convictions as 'dreadful', the judge urged him: “Please take this chance. So many people have gone out of their way to try to help you. Don’t let them down.”

Lennon, who appeared in court via video link from HMP Bullingdon, said: “Thank you very much. I won’t mess up.”

Judge Pringle warned the defendant that if he were to relapse or breach the order in any way he could expect a ‘significant’ prison sentence.

Prosecutor Matthew Knight said the offences would normally carry a starting point of four years’ imprisonment.

The member of staff challenged by Lennon had been ‘petrified’. Summarising his victim impact statement, Mr Knight the incident had left the man 'apprehensive in discharging and conducting his duties at the Co-op'.

Peter du Feu, mitigating, said of his client, who had celebrated his 40th birthday while on remand at Bullingdon prison: “30s going to 40s is a bit of a watershed for people who have had an entrenched pattern of criminality and drug abuse. They get fed up with it.”

Lennon, formerly of Oxton, the Wirral, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to robbery.

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