A thief ran into a bakery and armed himself with a bread knife after being confronted by a man whose wallet he had stolen. 

Ashar Williams found a wallet on the floor on Bexley Road in Erith and decided to try to use one of the bank cards to buy something in Tesco. 

But the owner of the wallet received a text from his bank and came back to catch Williams in the act. 

When Williams was confronted he decided that instead of returning the wallet he would storm into nearby Crumbs Bakery to arm himself with one of their bread knives. 

A terrified baker said: “I was very scared, I thought he was going to stab someone.” 

Police were called to the scene and when Williams was arrested he had the bread knife in his pocket. 

43rd birthday in the dock 

On Monday (March 11) Williams, of Harriet Tubman Close in Brixton, spent his 43rd birthday at Woolwich Crown Court trying to convince a judge not to send him to prison. 

At an earlier hearing he had pleaded guilty to possession of a knife, theft and fraud. 

After hearing the facts of the case Judge Ben Gumpert invited Williams to the witness box to explain his actions. 

Williams claimed that he took the knife from the bakery to protect himself, after the rightful owner of the wallet approached him and grabbed him by the collar. 

“At that time I felt like I was actually the victim in this,” Williams said. 

Judge Gumpert replied: “You could have just given him his wallet back and said I’m sorry I tried to use your bank card fraudulently.” 

Williams explained that when he left the bakery with the bread knife he had no intention to use and was trying to give the victim his wallet back. 

“I’ve never actually been in any violent altercation with anyone. I 100 per cent accept it was my fault, there is no justification,” he said. 

Williams works as an audio-visual engineer and is dad to two teenagers. 

He told the judge: “The reason I regret the matter more than anything is that my actions will effect others in my family and my children matter more to me than anything.” 

Two strike knife policy 

Since 2015 a “two strikes” policy has been in place, meaning that being convicted for a second offence of possession of a knife will result in an immediate prison sentence of a minimum six months unless there are exceptional circumstances. 

Williams had previously been convicted of possessing a knife a decade and a half ago. 

Judge Gumpert said he was not impressed by the way Williams continues to try to justify his behaviour. 

However, he conceded that there are exceptional circumstances in this case – namely the length of time since his previous knife offence, the fact he has children dependent on him and the current overcrowding of prisons.

Judge Gumpert said: “Our prisons are bursting with people that society needs to be protected from and in my opinion Ashar Williams does not fit into that category.” 

He continued: “Mr Williams, you are too anxious to justify yourself in my opinion, but despite that I’ve decided this mainly because I’m concerned for other people that this sentence might effect. 

“Other people will think you have got away with a slap on the wrist and that people who carry knives ought to go to prison.” 

He gave Williams an eight-month prison sentence suspended for two years, meaning he will not see the inside of a cell unless he offends again. 

The judge warned Williams that if he commits another crime he will not hesitate to send him to prison. 

Williams will be required to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and was ordered to pay £340 in costs.