A HOMELESS drunk who threatened to kill one Co-op shopper and stab another has been jailed.

Joseph McLaughlin lashed out after being told by a fellow member of his church, who together with his wife had been supporting the alcoholic, they would no longer be able to help the 30-year-old.

And despite McLaughlin’s claims he was thoroughly ashamed by his behaviour, Swindon magistrates jailed him for 12 weeks.

An unimpressed Christine Smith, chairman of the bench, said she had presided over McLaughlin’s last court appearance a fortnight earlier: “I was here two weeks ago and heard the sad, sorry tale then – and things haven’t changed, in fact they’ve got worse.”

Swindon Magistrates’ Court was told McLaughlin had been drunk when he visited the Old Town Co-operative store at lunchtime on Thursday, June 20.

He told one man, in the shop to buy his lunch, “I’ll hurt you – in a minute I’ll kill you”. The victim did not respond, but told police he felt threatened and recognised McLaughlin as a drunk regularly seen outside the Co-op.

McLaughlin was said to have come to blows with another customer after telling him to “shut up or I’ll take you outside and I’ll stab you”.

Prosecuting, Michelle Hewitt said there was a suggestion McLaughlin had thrown punches – but added that the Crown did not have evidence of an assault or any injuries caused.

Interviewed by police, McLaughlin said he was drunk, admitted getting into an argument but could not remember threatening to kill anyone.

Defending, Sam Arif told magistrates her client was thoroughly ashamed of his behaviour: “He’s 30-years-old and he’s been drinking since the age of 15. He has a problem with alcohol. He says the incident at the Co-op was a real wake up call for him.

“He says, ‘I fully accept I got drunk, I shouted, I may have been abusive, but I don’t normally get involved in such arguments with members of the public and people I don’t know’.”

McLaughlin had been “sent over the edge” when a fellow member of his church, who had been helping him, had told he would not be able to assist any longer.

Ms Arif said her client was keen to get help for his alcohol addiction. He had previously stayed at a rehab away from Swindon but resumed drinking when he returned home. Suggesting magistrates sentence him to a community order, the solicitor said of McLaughlin: “He knows this is crunch time.”

McLaughlin pleaded guilty to two counts of threatening behaviour. He was sentenced to 12 weeks imprisonment for each offence, with the jail time to be served concurrently. Magistrates said he would not have to pay compensation or costs, citing his limited means.

The homeless man, who has more than 30 previous convictions on his record for 74 offences, found himself in court in 2017 after he spat at a TV camera capturing footage for Channel 4 show 999 What's Your Emergency?