Man brought 12 inch knife into Sunderland Royal Hospital on Sunday

A man is facing prison after he was disarmed by a police officer and security staff as he wandered the corridors of Sunderland Royal Hospital with a 12 inch knife.

Homeless Louis Downs, 34, could be caged for up to two years after he appeared in court to admit his second such crime since 2003.

He was nabbed in the early hours of Sunday, April 28, as part of Northumbria Police’s Operation Cosmic – a beefing up of security at the health site.

Magistrates declined to sentence him, saying their punishment powers were insufficient and instead sent him to be dealt with by Newcastle Crown Court.

They also remanded him into custody after hearing he has committed past offences while on bail – and despite his claims he fears being attacked while behind bars.

Prosecutor Glenda Beck said: “At approximately 2.50am police were on duty as part of Operation Cosmic, which is a partnership with the hospital to have extra security for staff and patients.

“An officer noticed the defendant going around the hospital for no reason and did so because he was homeless.

“The officer followed Mr Downs and informed him that he had to leave the hospital premises.

“He claimed that he was wanted as he had breached his court bail, but inquiries showed he wasn’t wanted.

“The officer saw a brown handle coming from a pocket and suspected that it was a knife. She took hold of his arm and was helped by security staff.

“The blade was approximately 12 inches long. He was taken to Southwick police station where he made no comment to all questions put to him.”

Downs, who has committed 18 offences while on bail and has violent crime on his record, pleaded guilty to possession of a bladed article in public.

Ben Hirst, defending, said: “Mr Downs is a vulnerable individual. His instructions are that he found the knife in a skip not far from the hospital.

“He is in fear of other individuals and has mental health issues. He hasn’t produced the knife when the police approached him. He complied.

“I have to accept that it falls outside of your sentencing powers. Ultimately this is going to the crown court.

“He is in fear that if he goes to prison, harm will be done to him. There are individuals who are after him.”

Downs will be sentenced on Wednesday, May 29.