Suspended sentence for man who caused 'traffic chaos' in A12 knife drama

Nicholas Shepherd appeared at Ipswich Crown Court for sentencing

Michael Underwood appeared at Ipswich Crown Court for sentencing on Tuesday. - Credit: Archant

An Ipswich man who caused the A12 at Martlesham to be closed after he was seen walking along the side of the road with a knife has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Sentencing fifty-three-year-old  Michael Underwood, Judge Emma Peters said his actions had resulted in rush hour traffic chaos for hundreds of motorists.

She said that police officers had no choice but to close the A12 in case he had run out into the road and been injured or killed.

“The very fact of having a knife in your possession and bringing it out in the way you did caused you danger and danger to others,” said the judge.

However, she said Underwood was in physically poor health and had an extensive psychiatric history, involving several suicide attempts including a similar incident he A14.

Underwood, of Harebell Road, Ipswich, admitted having a knife on the A12 at Martlesham on July 21 last year.

He was given a nine month prison sentence suspended for two years and a 40 day rehabilitation activity requirement.

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John Farmer, prosecuting, said that shortly before 6pm police received reports of a man walking on the hard shoulder of the A12 at Martlesham.

A police officer went to the area and approached Underwood who suddenly pulled out a modelling knife and extended it.

Underwood threatened to stab the officer with the knife if he came any closer and the officer contemplated deploying his taser, said Mr Farmer.

The officer closed one lane of the carriageway but when officers arrived on the scene they decided to close the opposite carriageway causing “ traffic chaos.”

“The police had to be very careful as they didn’t know if the defendant would run into the road and be injured or killed,” said Mr Farmer.

He said that in due course Underwood had retracted the blade of the knife and was arrested.

During police interviews he said he had been contemplating suicide.

Oliver Haswell, for Underwood said his client had been intent on doing himself injury on the day in question.

“He didn’t set out that day to do anyone any harm apart from himself,” said Mr Haswell.

He said Underwood hadn’t reoffended since the incident and his life was now more settled.