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UK: Zim-born Shoplifter threatened to stab Tesco staff with a needle

By The Oxford Mail

UNITED KINGDOM: A man cleared of brandishing a drugs needle in an Oxford Tesco was given a four-and-a-half month sentence for threatening behaviour.

Zywai Nyahoda, 33, has already served the short sentence, having been remanded in custody since the start of the year.

Then hopelessly addicted to hard drugs, Nyahoda went into the Tesco in Magdalen Street on July 17, 2021, in order to steal goods.

He was stopped and taken to the basement by two staff members. Although initially compliant, when he learnt that they planned to call the police Nyahoda’s attitude changed.

Claiming to have a needle on him, he threatened to stab the store staff with it unless they let him go.

He was tried on charges of making threats with a pointed object and affray. Jurors at Oxford Crown Court on Friday (June 30) acquitted him of the weapon and affray charges, but convicted him of threatening behaviour towards the store workers as an alternative to finding him guilty of the affray.

Giving him 18 weeks’ imprisonment, Recorder Alexander McGregor told the grey tracksuited defendant: “People working in shops and dealing with shoplifters should not have to face threats of that very serious nature.”

He noted that the members of staff had expressed concern about what might be on the needle Nyahoda claimed to have in his possession, fearing possible infection if they were stabbed.

The court heard Nyahoda, formerly of Tidmarsh Street, Reading, had 15 previous convictions for 54 offences, many for theft and related crimes.

Mitigating, Peter du Feu said his client originally came to the UK from Zimbabwe – via Germany – when he was still a young child.

He was brought up in Oxford by his grandmother and, while a pupil at Cherwell School, picked up nine GCSEs, three A-levels and a taste for cannabis.

The herb proved to be a gateway drug for other, harder, substances. And after he broke his back in a serious car accident at the end of 2018, which put him in hospital for months, he began using heroin.

The death of his grandmother shortly before the Tesco incident in Nyahoda had ‘sent him into a downward spiral’ and led to him, ‘sweaty and desperate’ trying to get away from the supermarket staff members.

Mr du Feu said his client had managed to get clean since his remand into custody at the start of the year and was now on a drug-free wing in prison. Upon his release, he planned to stay with an uncle in south Oxfordshire until he got back on his feet.

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