A JUDGE has questioned a Crown Prosecution Service decision over charges brought against a man who threatened a doctor with a knife which means the maximum sentence he can receive is just 12 months in prison.

At Bolton Crown Court Jonathan Brownlee, aged 36, of Park Road, Little Lever, pleaded guilty to assaulting Dr Margaret Talbot and possessing a knife at the Waters Meeting Health Centre on May 10.

The case was adjourned until July 17 to allow pre-sentence reports to be prepared and Judge Richard Gioserano asked Duncan Wilcock, prosecuting, to find out why Brownlee had not been charged with threatening with a knife, which can carry a sentence of up to four years in jail.

He said: "For threatening a doctor with a knife at her surgery the maximum sentence is going to be 12 months.This is happening so often that I am considering raising it directly with a member of the Crown Prosecution Service at a senior level.

“Time and time again defendants who are effectively admitting threatening people with knives are not charged with a threatening offence.”

He added: “I think the judge for sentence is entitled to a written explanation as to why, on the face of it, this defendant has been undercharged, so when the sentence is passed the public can understand the court’s powers have been restricted by the nature of the charge."

Kimberley Morton, defending, stressed that Brownlee, who has mental health issues, has no previous convictions.

"He can't remember really what happened because he was intoxicated at the time. The defendant is more at risk of harming himself than anybody else."

The judge told Brownlee: "I do want you to understand the seriousness of your position — please don't take granting you a pre-sentence report as any indication that there is going to be anything other than a fairly significant prison sentence here." Brownlee was remanded in custody until July 17.