A notorious thief has been jailed for a series of “appalling” offences including biting two shop workers, assaulting a police officer and brandishing a kitchen knife during a terrifying street skirmish.
Prolific shoplifter Dean Bestford, 38, sunk his teeth into the two store detectives who caught him stealing from the McColl’s store on Moorcroft Road in York.
Prosecutor Brooke Morrison said the series of offences began on 12 October, 2021, when three men from Leeds turned up in cars outside Bestford’s friend Christine Baker’s home in Danebury Drive, York.
The men were carrying an axe and a metal baseball bat and were acting aggressively.
Bestford and Baker went outside to confront the men – Bestford brandishing a small kitchen knife and Baker wielding a glass bottle.
“Ms Baker smashed the bottle on the ground, keeping hold of the smashed neck of the bottle, and approached one of the men and wrestled the baseball bat from him,” said Ms Morrison.
Bestford and Baker then chased the men down the street as shocked witnesses called police.
Officers descended on Baker’s home and arrested her and Bestford, but the three men were never found. Baker, 35, received a suspended prison sentence at a previous hearing after she admitted affray.
Bestford, of St Stephen’s Square, Acomb, was brought in for questioning and was released under investigation.
Then, on 3 November last year he was involved in another disturbance on a Northern Rail train where the train driver, a young woman, asked to see his ticket. Bestford instead showed her his electronic tag and told her: “This is the ticket.”
The named rail worker told him he would have to get off at the next stop if he didn’t buy a ticket, but Bestford “became increasingly aggressive towards her”, said Ms Morrison.
“She asked him to leave the train, but he refused and continued to shout and swear at her in front of other train passengers including children,” added the prosecutor.
Two male passengers tried to intervene, but the train driver stepped in to prevent a fight breaking out. She called for police assistance as Bestford, who was still ranting and raving, picked up a wine bottle and held it above his head as “as if he was about to hit her with it”.
Drunk ten bottles of wine
Bestford was arrested at the next station and later told police he had drunk 10 bottles of wine on the day in question.
He was released under investigation but on 12 March this year he was up to no good again, stealing two cases of Carlsberg from McColl’s on Moorcroft Road.
The brazen thief returned to the shop in the evening and stole two boxes of Desperados beer. This time, two store detectives recognised him and followed him out of the store.
They tried to detain him, but Bestford punched the male store detective in the face and headbutted him, then kneed him in the ribs. He then bit him on the arm and tried to kick the female store detective. He then bit her on the finger which broke the skin and drew blood.
Police arrived to arrest Bestford who lied to officers that he needed medical attention after taking a “quantity of drugs”.
Police took him to hospital but on the way there, he aimed a volley of abuse at them and told one officer: “I’m going to knock your teeth out.”
He threatened to headbutt the officers who escorted him into the hospital. Bestford was sat down on a sofa as officers tried to calm him down, but he suddenly shot up and kicked an officer in the stomach.
Bestford ultimately admitted two counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, two counts of shop theft, assaulting a police officer, common assault and threatening behaviour. He denied affray in relation to the street fight, but a jury found him guilty following a trial in June. He was also convicted of carrying a knife during the same incident.
He appeared for sentence via video link today when he had to be muted for shouting out in protest during court proceedings.
Ms Morrison said Bestford’s massive criminal record comprised 94 previous offences including many for theft but also for drink-fuelled serious violence, assaulting emergency workers, public disorder and affray.
Defence barrister Timothy Jacobs said Bestford had remarkably stayed out of trouble for 10 years up to 2021, but “went off the rails” again following the death of his mother to Covid and turned to drink and drugs again.
Judge Simon Hickey described Bestford’s offences, particularly against the shop workers, as “appalling and revolting” which could only be met by an immediate jail sentence.
Bestford was jailed for two years.
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