Asda security guard had 'complete meltdown' and tried to run over shoplifter
A frustrated supermarket security guard has been jailed after trying to run down a repeat shoplifter in his van and then lying to police about being attacked himself. Stephen Johnson was working at Asda on St Helens Road, Bolton, when he chased a thief from the store on July 25, 2018. But, when he could not catch the fleeing criminal, a court heard how the 27-year-old decided to take justice into his own hands by climbing into his work van and trying to run the man down.
Fortunately for the thief, Steven Quinn, he and his friend, Daniel Lee, were able to clamber over a nearby railing and escape serious injury. Quinn was clipped by the van but only sustained minor wounds.
Immediately after he attempted to attack the pair, Johnson drove back to the shop and cut himself with a knife, slashing through his own clothes to make it seem like he had been attacked. He then told police he had been the victim of an assault involving Lee.
Johnson maintained the lie in interviews with officers and continued to say he had been attacked when he appeared in court, despite CCTV evidence to the contrary. At an earlier hearing, after his claims had been thrown out by Judge Graeme Smith, Johnson pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, perverting the course of justice and possession of cannabis.
The Asda store in St Helens Road, Daubhill, where Johnson was working (Image: Adam Vaughan)
Today (March 19), he appeared before the judge again at Bolton Crown Court. Explaining the case, prosecutor Rob Hall told the hearing that that the incident could have been much more serious.
“This was clearly a road rage incident, the defendant has at some speed mounted the pavement and has driven around the corner past the corner of an open shop,” he said. “He drove at the two males, Mr Quinn and Mr Lee. The space which they were standing in was confined space between the shop and the railings.
“It’s fair to say if they had not jumped over the railways they might have been run over by that vehicle.” Defending, Ian Metcalfe, explained that Johnson had previously been of good character and that his parents, girlfriend and two managers had sent letters to the court supporting him. He said the 27-year-old had received numerous promotions within the security company contracted to work at the store but that he was ‘unsuited’ for the role because of the mounting pressure on his job.
Mr Metcalfe also said that Johnson had suffered a ‘complete meltdown’, partly due to the fact he had been completing 12-hour shifts and had worked for ten days in a row before the incident. In fact, the pressure was so heavy that the young man had taken to smoking cannabis regularly and had even smoked while sat in his work van, the prosecutor told the court. “I can’t make sense of what the defendant did on that evening because there’s no sense in it,” Mr Metcalfe said.
“All clarity of thought and relativity became buried under an avalanche of highly emotional and profoundly stupid actions. “The root of that meltdown may have come from mental health concerns which festered untreated within the defendant since his childhood.” He went on to say that Johnson had displayed ‘genuine remorse’ for this actions and waited a long period – more than two years – for the incident to reach sentencing.
He now works in construction and has stopped smoking cannabis, the prosecutor added.
But, despite being urged toward leniency, the judge said that Johnson’s crimes warranted a period in prison. He said: “You inflicted a number of injuries on yourself and then continued to give the impression that you have been stabbed.” Mr Smith then explained that, even after Johnson had admitted to causing some of the wounds to himself, he still persisted in telling the court he had been attacked.
He added: “This is one of those cases when appropriate punishment can only be served by immediate custody.”
Johnson, of Harrogate Road, Stockport, was handed a 22-month prison sentence, which he will serve half of, and a 23-month disqualification from driving.