A FORMER professional clown who was mocked by a gang of teenagers in Workington threatened to kill them with a 9-inch chef's knife.

Stanley Thompson, 42, was ridiculed by the 15-strong group as he was drunkenly making his way to his William Street home in the town on December 27 last year, Carlisle Crown Court heard.

The gang even pursued him after he reached his home, banging on and kicking his door.

It was after this provocation that Thompson snapped, going outside with a chef's knife and brandishing it at the gang as he threatened to kill them.

At one point, a witness saw him swinging punches at the group.

In court, Thompson admitted affray and possessing a knife in a public place without a reasonable excuse.

Anthony Parkinson, prosecuting, said a witness who saw the fracas in South William Street, just round the corner from the defendant's home, believed some of the punches thrown by the defendant made contact. When police arrived, Thompson discarded the knife.

The prosecutor said that the defendant's background included convictions for an affray, a public order offence, and a battery.

Brendan Burke, for Thompson, said: "Trouble was brought to him.

"He was wending his way home, probably shaky on his feet... and he attracted mockery from the group. He thinks there were as many as 15 young people, aged between 12 and 16 and 17.

"He was mocked by them."

At one point he fell over, and the group followed him to his home

The barrister continued: "He shut the door behind him, and there was banging and kicking on the door and then he did what he did... He panicked and reacted to the aggression of a large group."

Mr Burke said Thompson had no history of using knives but on the day of the offences he was clearly provoked.

The barrister said his client was entitled to wander home alone without being attacked, adding: "It's not a case of absolutely unexplainable, spontaneous, and unfounded violence or threats."

Passing sentence, Judge James Adkin said: "The trouble is that he does not come to this court able to say that he has never been in trouble.

"He was on a community order at the time for entirely different offences.

"One would have thought he might keep his head down rather than, full of drink, consider brandishing a chef's knife at a group of teenagers, threatening to kill them."

In such a incendiary situation, said the judge, the potential for the defendant to seriously injure one of the youths was obvious.

He accepted there was provocation but added: "I take the view that only custody is appropriate."

He jailed Thompson for 10 months.