London homeless man jailed for having steak knife in the bottom of his bag

-Credit: (Image: MPS)
-Credit: (Image: MPS)

A homeless man who has lived on the streets of London for over a decade has been jailed after he was caught with a steak knife in the bottom of his bag. Danny Sawyer allegedly stole the knife from Preto, a Brazilian restaurant, to use for cutting food. He was arrested after Co-op workers on Cheapside, near St Paul's cathedral, accused him of stealing from their shop on January 29 this year.

A police officer who handcuffed the 44-year-old discovered the blade wrapped inside a bag, within his rucksack, during a stop and search for stolen supermarket goods. Those items were never found, but Sawyer was arrested on suspicion of theft of the knife, and for possessing a bladed article in public. He was never charged with stealing from Co-op.

Sawyer told police 'he had forgotten it in his bag', but pleaded guilty to knife possession. After this guilty plea was entered, the Crown dropped the other charge for theft of the knife. At Inner London Crown Court on Wednesday (May 29), prosecutor Arizuna Asante described Sawyer's criminal record as 'unenviable' and referred to three previous knife offences.

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Inner London Crown Court on Newington Causeway in Southwark -Credit:Google
Inner London Crown Court on Newington Causeway in Southwark -Credit:Google

"The acquisition of the knife," Sawyer's defence argued, "was part of him living rough, to cut up food and things... The knife was in a bag in a bag, not brandished. It was very much secreted away from public view in the bottom of a bag."

After 10 years sleeping rough, Sawyer was finally given a home of his own just two weeks before the offence. His barrister pleaded for a sentence that did not put him in prison longer than the 13 weeks' rent, guaranteed by social services while he is inside. They also asked the judge for mercy against a backdrop of Sawyer's 30-year heroin addiction, the early loss of his father, and lack of education.

Sparing him the loss of his house with an eight-month sentence, Judge David Richards said: "Mr Sawyer you know full well you should not carry knives. To say it was life on the street or for cutting food, that might be true. But you know, from [previous convictions] in 2011 and 2022, the courts take a very strict view because accidents happen and people die."

Sawyer's sentence represents an increase on the last six-month minimum term he was given in 2022. He was also hit with a concurrent sentence of one month for failing to turn up to court in March. "That is a pain in the neck and disrespectful to the court," added the judge, "If your flat is available, you will be out in 13 weeks. But if you keep getting caught with knives, your sentence will go up and up."

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