A JUDGE who gave a homeless addict a last chance to avoid jail after he attacked a woman with a needle questioned whether he was making a “stupid mistake”.

City centre security guard Eleanor Bartlett was trying to help Alexander Austin when he lashed out with the needle in Brighton’s Pavilion Gardens.

Austin, 50, who has a record of more than 130 previous convictions, was given one final chance by the judge in the hope he could turn his life around. Rowan Jenkins, prosecuting, told Hove Crown Court yesterday that Austin was seen waving a syringe around in Pavilion Gardens at 3.45pm on July 15.

Ms Bartlett, who knew the defendant and has helped him before, tried to calm him down Mr Jenkins said: “He then unexpectedly swung out his arm with the needle.

He swung around with such force he drove it into his own hand with an audible sound.” Judge David Rennie said he was unsure whether he was doing the right thing by giving Austin a chance to avoid jail, delaying sentencing to give him the opportunity to engage with addiction services.

Addressing the judge directly Austin said: “I’m gutted, I’m upset with myself.

“The lady in question has helped me countless times.

“She will get me a roll and a coffee.

“On this particular day I had been with some friends in town and one of them gave me a roll-up. I don’t remember much else.

“I was told later there was spice in it. I was told by the police I had swung at a lady.

“It isn’t my way. I have been in rehab for five years and spent 95 per cent of the time clean and behaving.

“I can’t believe I struck out, especially at a woman.

“I have already asked to tell her that this was a one off and to tell her it shouldn’t have happened. “She is such a nice person. She is one of the security in the city who goes out of her way to help you.” Judge Rennie said:

“I am trying to work out whether I am making a really stupid mistake.

“Although you are 50 and have pages and pages of convictions I’m inclined to put the ball in you court.

“If you get yourself straight again with probation, there’s a chance you could put this right. “If that happens everyone wins.

“Society and the community win, which is more important than you winning.

“The sentencing will take place. there will be a prison sentence because what you did was wrong but if you really impress probation by working hard with them, then you might be able to persuade me to suspend it. “[The victim] is a remarkable woman.

“She must have been really shocked.”

Austin, who will now be living in Shanklin Court, Shanklin Road, Brighton will be sentenced on December 13.