A MENTALLY ill man drove a van into custody shutters outside Kendal police station in a bid to get inside, a court heard.

Officers and staff working at the town building were alerted to loud banging noises outside on April 5.

One officer went to investigate and found Haydn Evans sat in the driver’s seat and was the sole occupant of a black Peugeot Partner van.

“It looked as though the van had reversed into the police station,” prosecutor Ben Berkson told Carlisle Crown Court, “as there was damage to the defendant’s vehicle. The officer also noted there was some moderate damage to custody roller shutter doors.

“He (Evans) was asked if he had caused the damage. He confirmed that he had and explained he had done so in order to get into the police station.”

Evans was arrested and his belongings were searched. Inside a rucksack was a seven-inch long blade described as a kitchen knife, although Mr Berkson stated: “There is no suggestion the knife was produced by the defendant at the time.”

No interview was conducted at the time owning to concerns over Evans’ behaviour, his presentation and the answers he was giving. He was sectioned under the Mental Health Act and detained for several weeks in hospital for in-patient treatment.

Evans, who had since spent several months in custody on remand, pleaded guilty to illegal public possession of a blade and also criminal damage.

Mr Berkson said of the offending: “There was some planning as the defendant indicated himself it was a deliberate act as he was trying to get into the police station. Shutter doors are there to ensure the police station is secure.”

The cost of repairing the damage was almost £1,000.

Evans, of Docker, near Kendal, was sentenced by Recorder Eric Lamb. The judge referred to a psychiatrist’s report which stated that by April this year there was a possibility of drug-induced psychosis, a possibility of schizophrenia and also paranoid and perceptual disturbances.

The court heard Evans had been experiencing paranoia at the time of the offences. However, the psychiatrist had concluded that hospital admission was not currently indicated.

Charlotte Phillips, giving mitigation, highlighted the time already spent in custody by Evans on remand. “It is clear he was suffering significantly with his mental health. He has made an improvement while he has been in custody,” she said.

A probation officer’s pre-sentence report had made recommendations in a bid to steer Evans away from further offending.

As a result, Recorder Lamb imposed a 12-month community order. Evans — a man of previous good character — must complete rehabilitation work with the probation service, 120 hours’ community service and a 120-day alcohol abstinence monitoring requirement. Any alcohol use will result in a breach of the order.

“This plainly was an aberration on your part at a time when you were considerably unwell,” the judge said to Evans.