Ipswich: Alcoholic with criminal career spanning 45 years is jailed

Michael Debenham, who has been jailed following an incident in Ipswich.

Michael Debenham, who has been jailed following an incident in Ipswich. - Credit: Archant

An Ipswich man who has committed 177 offences in a criminal career spanning 45 years is back behind bars after threatening staff at supported accommodation where he was living with a knife.

Alcoholic Michael Debenham, 62, who committed his first offence in 1968, had been responding well to attempts to help him stop drinking but last month he turned violent when concerned staff entered his flat, after not getting a response from him, and found empty beer cans on the floor of his lounge, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Debenham, who was sitting on his bed with the curtains in the room closed had been aggressive and told the two women to get out of his bedsit, said Mark Lakin, prosecuting.

Debenham was given a cup of coffee but had become angry and shouted that he had messed everything up and was going to kill himself.

Debenham then went to the kitchen area of the bedsit and picked up a knife which he started waving around. One of the women tried to push a panic button but it wasn’t working, said Mr Lakin.

After further conversation with Debenham the women said they would leave and check on him later and he put the knife back in the kitchen.


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The police were called and when they arrested Debenham he was aggressive and had to be restrained on his bed and handcuffed. He told officers he had been drinking and was worried he would lose his flat.

Debenham, who was living at Trafalgar House, Trafalgar Close, Ipswich, admitted affray and resisting arrest and was jailed for 10 months.

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After hearing that Debenham had committed 177 offences since 1968, Recorder Stephen Solley QC told him: “It’s a very odd honour to have one of the longest criminal records I’ve ever seen.”

He said offences involving knives were very serious as situations could get out of control very quickly and ended up as cases of manslaughter or murder.

Neil Saunders, for Debenham, said his client had been an alcoholic for many years and probably wouldn’t live long enough to draw his state pension if he didn’t change his ways.

He said Debenham had made good progress while living in the supported accommodation but had now lost this because of his behaviour last month.

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