A MAN’S bid to have a prison sentence reduced on appeal backfired after a judge, sitting with two magistrates, extended the jail term.

Andrew Johnson was told he was fortunate not to have been charged with more serious offences over his frightening drug-fuelled behaviour in a town centre newsagents’ store, which including throwing a shop display, part of which struck a three-year-old child in the face.

Johnson, 36, of no fixed abode, was jailed for three months by Newton Aycliffe magistrates after admitting common assault and a public order offence.

His appeal hearing against the length of the sentence, at Durham Crown Court, was told he entered WH Smith in Newgate Street, Bishop Auckland, apparently high on diazepam, and in possession of the class C drug, at 1.30pm on Tuesday October 8.

Ashleigh Leach, prosecuting, said Johnson became abusive and behaved aggressively towards a shop assistant, threatening to slash him with a knife, at the time he was serving a female customer who was with her three-year-old child.

It ended with him throwing a display across the shop, part of which flew off into the cheek of the customer’s child.

Although it caused reddening on impact, the child was not badly injured.

Represented by Adam Walker, Johnson appealed to reduce the length of the sentence imposed by the magistrates.

But Judge Christopher Prince, who was sitting with two JPs, told him: “Appealing against the sentence was an extremely bad move by you.

“This appeal is preposterous and, more importantly, demonstrates a complete lack of remorse or recognition of the gravity of the offending.

“While in that shop, you behaved in an extremely serious manner and were extremely fortunate not to be charged with the more serious offence of affray.

“It was terrifying for people for people to be threatened by someone high on drugs as they were going about their everyday lives.

“That object could have caught that child in the eye and caused permanent damage. Thankfully he suffered only reddening to the cheek. But it could have been considerably worse.

“When it is so serious it falls to be sentenced at the top end of the range.”

Following consideration of the sentence, the judge and magistrates returned to court and initially increased it from three months to seven.

But, having been told by Mr Walker that the maximum sentence was six months, the length was adjusted to one of four months, giving a one-third discount to reflect the immediate guilty plea of Johnson.

Judge Prince repeated, however, that he was, “extremely fortunate” the charges arising from the incident were not more serious.