A THIEF whipped out a knife and tried to slash security guards after stealing perfume at Lakeside shopping centre.

Alan Ruston, 46, was spotted by staff at House of Fraser filling a large shoulder bag full of perfume.

The security guard watched Ruston fill his bag to the brim, seal it, and then make his way out of the store without making any attempt to pay.

The guard requested help from another employee and they went to confront Ruston in the shopping centre.

When they approached him, Ruston initially denied having anything in his bag, but then he produced a blade – a carpet knife – from his pocket.

Basildon Crown Court heard that witnesses reported seeing Ruston wave the knife in the direction of the security guards and a scuffle took place.

Ruston was eventually knocked to the floor and the knife flew out of his hand, and he was arrested at the scene.

The incident, which took place on March 22 this year, saw Ruston take a total of £418.98 worth of perfume from the House of Fraser store.

Ruston appeared via video link at the court on Friday, where he showed little emotion and spoke only to confirm his identity and how long he had been remanded in custody.

He has a long history of previous offences, including various thefts and shoplifting.

Mitigation for Ruston told the court that the reason he had the knife was because he was doing some work for his mother at the time, and he had not taken it to the shopping centre with the intent to use it.

It was also heard that he suffers from mental health issues and that he was “truly sorry” for his actions and was “trying his best” to fit back into society after a series of setbacks.

Recorder Giles Eyre told Ruston that he had committed a “serious crime” and handed him a prison sentence due to his repeat offending.

Ruston, from south London, admitted three counts of theft, with two other incidents having taken place ten days beforehand, and possession of a bladed article.

Recorder Eyre gave him three months in prison for each count, to run concurrently, and ten months for possession of the knife, to also run concurrently.