A prolific crook who appeared on Channel 4 documentary as a reformed criminal has been jailed for pulling a knife on an off-duty police officer, it emerged today.
Derek Bray, 35, starred in the Dispatches programme ‘The Thief Catchers’ after wracking up 32 convictions for 149 offences.
The show – aired just two weeks ago – followed a police unit which puts prolific offenders back on the right track.
But after moving to a different city to start a new life, Bray threatened an off-duty police officer with a knife during a street row.
He has now been jailed for 14 months at Exeter Crown Court in Devon after he admitted possessing an article with a blade and a public order offence.
Sentencing, Judge Philip Wassall said: ”Whenever anyone takes a knife out, at some stage, they might use it in some way, even for defensive purposes.
”Once that decision is made, it then becomes a matter of chance what happens next.
”It becomes an easy step to someone being injured – and being injured quite seriously.”
Bray has racked up a wide range of convictions including burglary, dishonesty, road traffic offences, drugs and handling stolen goods.
The Thief Catchers focused on an offender management scheme in Bristol and followed three persistent criminals who all claimed they wanted to change.
After filming the show last year, Bray moved from Bristol to Exeter in a bid to escape his criminal past and make a fresh start.
But just after midnight on February 27 he approached a couple rowing in the street with ‘clenched fists’ and ‘hunched shoulders’ before producing a small knife.
When confronted by an off-duty policeman, Bray initially refused to believe him before the officer produced his baton.
Magistrates had earlier ruled that Bray had not deliberately taken the knife out of the house, and had it in his pocket to cut brambles whilst walking his puppy.
He claimed he found the weapon in his pocket before producing it, but did not use any threats of violence.
James Byrne, mitigating, said the documentary had ”shocked him into realising if he carried on, he would be dead” and pleaded for him to be spared jail.
But Judge Wassall said he had no alternative but to jail him during the hearing last Wednesday (13/7).
He added: ”You did not deliberately arm yourself with the knife, but it was found in your pocket during the course of a heated exchange outside with an other couple who ere being noisy.”
A Channel Four spokesman said of the programme: ”The offender management scheme offers them all the support they need to go straight – drug services, accommodation and access to employment – hoping to reduce the harm they cause to themselves and society.”