A MAN who believed people were laughing at him, armed himself with a knife and terrified two women in Bolton town centre.

Schizophrenic Anthony Miller insisted he only wanted to scare people and had no intention on harming anyone, Bolton Crown Court heard.

After reading reports about 39-year-old Miller, Recorder Peter Atherton decided the public could be best protected through him being supported in the community by probation staff.

Megan Tollitt, prosecuting, told how Laura Isherwood was walking on Great Moor Street in Bolton Town Centre at 4.30pm on January 17 when she heard someone mumbling behind her.

"She turned to see a male, who is now accepted to be the defendant," said Miss Tollitt, who added that the woman then noticed a knife taken from his jacket or tracksuit pants.

Mrs Isherwood ran off and she and her husband went to Home Bargains where staff called the police.

Ten minutes later Farzana Kadwa was walking through Back Spring Gardens when Miller went and stood in front of her.

"The defendant then pulled a large kitchen knife out of his jacket," said Miss Tollitt.

"In response Miss Kadwa moved out of the way and screamed."

Miller, of Langthorne Walk, Bolton ran off towards Newport Street and police found him a short time later on Great Moor Street where he admitted he had a knife in his jacket pocket.

He pleaded guilty to possessing a knife in public and told officers that he had been getting verbal abuse from unknown members of the public in the town centre

"The defendant said he walked home to Deane, picked up a knife from the kitchen and walked back to the town centre," said Miss Tollitt.

"He said he didn't want to threaten anyone with the knife and it wasn't his intention to hurt anybody, just to scare people who had been verbally abusing him."

The court heard that Miller, who was last sectioned 14 years ago and who receives regular depot injections of anti-psychotic medication, only has one previous conviction for criminal damage committed three years ago.

Isobel Thomas, defending, said that Miller's mental health difficulties are compounded by his addiction to illegal drugs and alcohol.

"The explanation the defendant gives for doing what he did is that he was hearing voices and people were laughing at him and so he went home and got the knife," she said.

Whilst awaiting sentence on remand in prison Miss Thomas said Miller has felt better and has freed himself of illegal drugs.

Recorder Atherton sentenced him to a community order with 25 days of rehabilitation activities and six months of drug treatment. He will also be electronically tagged and on a 9pm to 9am curfew for six weeks. "This sort of behaviour cannot be repeated," he told him.