Fifty-seven-year-old Sean Fox, of Columbkille Road in Portadown, admitted unlawful assault and possession of a knife in a public place on September 3 last year.
The court heard that Fox went to the jobs and benefits office and, on entering the premises, ordered staff to get his benefits sorted out. He produced a knife before leaving a short time later.
When spoken to by police, he said that money was being taken out of his benefits and this was not getting sorted. He was very sorry and did not intend to hurt anyone. He had no record.
Defence counsel Brendan Hagan said it was regrettable for this to happen to someone of Fox’s age, who had never been in court before, but the incident was inexcusable.
He explained that frustration had built up in the defendant over what he perceived as poor treatment from the Social Services Agency. He had not been given any reassurance from personnel he had spoken to.
Mr Hagan added that, at the end of the day, Fox had enough and put this knife in an envelope. He went in and the knife fell out of the envelope when he put it on the table.
The defendant accepted that his actions were completely inappropriate, said Mr Hagan.
District Judge, Mr Alan White, said he understood that dealing with officialdom could be frustrating at times, but it was one of the problems of life.
He added that they were only doing their job and it was outrageous that they were put in fear by someone who comes into the office with a knife.
“You let your frustration boil over,” he told Fox.
He said the case crossed the custody threshold but, because the defendant was a man in his 50s with no previous convictions – and he had pleaded guilty – it was not a case for immediate custody.
For the assault offence he sentenced Fox to two months in prison, suspended for two years, and for possession of the knife he gave him four months in custody, to run concurrently, suspended for two years.