Chocolate bar thief in kill threat

A KNIFE-wielding chocolate bar thief who threatened to kill a Coles employee will be sentenced this week.

Launceston man Gunnaid Anding Taher Ford, 19, maintained his pleas of guilty in the Launceston Supreme Court yesterday to assault and stealing.

The charges had been downgraded from armed robbery.

Ford also pleaded guilty to having destroyed property, relating to a window he smashed after he fled from Coles.

Justice Robert Pearce adjourned sentencing to tomorrow at 4pm.

Crown prosecutor Luke Brett told the court that Ford, then 18, was with a group of people who entered the Coles supermarket in Charles Street, Launceston, on the evening of September 26 last year.

Mr Brett said that CCTV captured Ford – twice – stealing from the confectionery aisle by placing chocolate bars down the front of his pants.

A Coles employee confronted Ford about his stealing, but Ford went outside the store.

The employee used his mobile phone to call police, while he stood near the supermarket entrance.

When the employee said, ‘‘Launceston police station’’, CCTV footage, which was played in court, showed Ford taking several steps down the ramp to the entrance of Coles.

Ford is seen holding a knife, with a curved, 30-centimetre blade, above his head and making stabbing motions with it.

Mr Brett said that Ford repeatedly told the Coles employee, ‘‘I’m going to kill you, you f---ing c--- ... you’re dead’’, before an associate pulled Ford away.

Defence counsel Evan Hughes told the court that the closest Ford came to his victim was five metres, so the chance of injury to the employee was minimal.

He said that his client was remorseful, but had been on a six-day drinking binge with associates who were a bad influence, so his memory of the event was hazy.

Mr Hughes said that Ford, who had been adopted as a child from the Philippines, had continued to suffer from racism in Tasmania, even as recently as last weekend.