Man jailed for holding mother and child at knifepoint in supermarket car park
PUBLISHED: 16:33 24 August 2020 | UPDATED: 16:54 24 August 2020
A man who threatened a mother and her young son with a knife in a supermarket car park has been jailed for four years.
During the incident outside Asda in Turner Rise, Colchester, Neil Diaz approached the woman, who was a complete stranger, as she put her one-year-old son in his car seat and told her to get into the passenger seat of her car.
She saw he was holding a seven inch knife with a serrated blade an inch away from her stomach and she immediately shut and locked the car door and screamed for help.
Diaz had “calmly“ walked away before catching a train to Chelmsford then to Marks Tey railway station where he was arrested.
The knife used in the incident in September last year was not recovered but another knife and a hammer were later found in his car.
Stephen Rose, prosecuting, said that before the incident Diaz was captured on CCTV walking round Asda for 90 minutes looking for a potential victim.
He said that following his arrest Diaz said he’d been depressed and having suicidal thoughts and had decided to “scare a woman” because he was fed up at being rejected by them.
He also said he had planned to kill himself after the incident in the car park.
Sentencing Diaz, Judge Martyn Levett described him as an “attention seeker” and as “unpredictable”.
He said although Diaz claimed he wouldn’t have harmed the woman or her son there was no knowing what would have happened if there had been a wrong move, look or comment by her or a loss of control by him.
He said it had undoubtedly been a “frightening experience” for the victim who had suffered nightmares and panic attacks since the incident.
Diaz, 58, of Roosevelt Way, Colchester, admitted attempted false imprisonment of the woman and her son, threatening the woman with a knife and possession of another knife.
Barry Gilbert for Diaz said his client had acted out of character and had been suffering from a “complete depressive breakdown”.
He accepted the incident had been terrifying for the victim and would stay with her forever.
Mr Gilbert said Diaz had lost his nerve and walked off with the intention of killing himself when the woman screamed.
He had wanted someone to talk to and made a “gross mistake” when he was at a low ebb.
Mr Gilbert said Diaz had been in custody for nearly a year and was a much changed person.
“He will never do anything like this again,” said Mr Gilbert
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