A BARE-CHESTED man who was seen wandering in and out of traffic in the snow has told a court: "I just wanted to go to jail."

Andrew Lawson said he was sick of sleeping rough and knew he would be arrested for his dangerous actions in Darlington town centre last month.

The 39-year-old "appeared disorientated, swinging his arms around erratically, and his eyes seemed to be rolling into the back of his head", Teesside Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor Jenny Haigh said he was staggering into traffic on High Northgate and was carrying numerous bags with a coat over his shoulder.

When he was told by a police officer to cover up to keep warm, he became aggressive and abusive, shouting and swearing, and was arrested because passers-by were alarmed by the commotion.

Lawson started to clutch his chest, so he was taken to hospital. He was later discharged and ferried to a police station, where is was discovered he had been carrying a small kitchen knife.

The drama on February 5 led to him being put before magistrates and remanded in custody.

He appeared at Teesside Crown Court via a live video-link from Preston Prison, and was given five months after he admitted possessing a bladed article.

The court heard that he has 165 offences on his record, including twice having a blade and once possessing a dangerous weapon – a syringe.

Lawson repeatedly interrupted proceedings on the link, and told Judge Howard Crowson: "The only reason I was carrying the knife was because I wanted to go to prison."

His barrister Victoria Lamballe said: "The knife was discovered only after the defendant was arrested for a relatively trivial public order offence.

"He would say it was an active attempt by him to get arrested, because the officers would find the knife.

"It goes without saying the defendant has an appalling antecedent history. His life has been blighted by drug addiction and mental health problems.

"The overall picture is a depressing one, but there is a chink of light as he had stayed out of trouble for three years. He relapsed into drug use last summer.

"He says as he is approaching 40, he is too old for this."

Lawson, formerly of Wordsworth Road, said: "I'm probably better off where I am at the moment."

Judge Crowson told him: "The minimum sentence is six months, and it is aggravated by your past offending.

"I am taking into account you were living on the streets, you were in a desperate situation and you wanted a roof over your head. The knife was concealed, and you didn't produce it."

Miss Lamballe said he was in Preston Prison because Holme House and Durham are full.