A SHOPLIFTER who stabbed a store detective at the end of a chase through York city centre has been jailed for two-and-a-half years.

Security staff from several shops joined in the pursuit as Alan Peter Broadhurst, 31, fled with stolen DVDs from Border's in Davygate, said prosecutor Nicholas Ralph.

When they surrounded him at steps leading up to Lendal Bridge, he stabbed store detective Darren Lovatt in the arm with a pocket knife.

Broadhurst has previous convictions for robbing a post office by holding a knife against a counter assistant's throat and wounding and was on probation and a conditional discharge for shoplifting at the time, York Crown Court heard.

Broadhurst, of Apollo Court, off Heslington Road, York, pleaded guilty to wounding, theft and carrying an offensive weapon.

Jailing him, the Honorary Recorder of York, Judge Paul Hoffman, said that although Mr Lovatt's injury was not the most serious, people who commit crimes with knives went to prison.

Mr Ralph said the chase began when Broadhurst set off the alarm as he walked out of the bookstore with five DVDs without paying. He told a store detective who accosted him: "Get back in your shop" and ran off down New Street, pursued by the shop worker. Staff in other stores were alerted and also ran after him as he fled along Coney Street and Museum Street.

When seven or eight store detectives cornered him on a ramp near Lendal Bridge after he had dropped the DVDs, he waved a pocket knife at them, shouting "I'm not afraid to use it - I've used it before," and "Who's first?"

Mr Lovatt picked up a broom and another detective a notice board in self-defence, but Broadhurst stabbed Mr Lovatt swiftly in the arm and ran up a flight of steps.

As shop staff warned bystanders away, police arrived and arrested the knifeman. Mr Lovatt had a puncture wound in his arm.

For Broadhurst, Anthony Moore said his client broke the law to fund his 16-year-long drug habit. He had not intended to harm anyone and had only wanted to escape from the store staff.

Updated: 10:57 Tuesday, May 20, 2003