Jail threat to Norwich man who inhales 16 cans of butane gas every day

A Norwich man who inhales 16 cans of butane gas every day has been warned that he could be jailed after he broke his anti-social behaviour order.

Andrew Francis, of Magdalen Close, has a lengthy past of criminal offences around the city due to an addiction to sniffing butane gas, which he uses as an anti-depressant.

The 31-year-old appeared at Norwich Magistrates' Court on Friday after being arrested on Thursday afternoon for breaching the terms of his ASBO by using butane in a public place, to which he pleaded guilty.

This came just 11 days after he had been handed a 12-month community order and 12-month supervision order at Norwich Crown Court.

Francis has inhaled 16 cans of the gas every day for 13 years, due to a troubled childhood that means he has suffered with depression and self-harming, the court heard.

Francis's lawyer James Landells told the court that his addiction had led to him using as many as 48 cans a day.

He said on the day Francis was arrested, in Davey Place, Norwich, he had sniffed only four or five cans, but had another 20 cans with him.

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It is the most recent in a string of troubles for Francis, who in June 2009 was handed a 12-month community order after being found guilty of making more than 500 bogus calls to the emergency services and harassing neighbours to claim he was dying or about to commit suicide.

On Thursday of last week, Francis was seen sniffing butane in the doorway of the emergency exit of the Iceland supermarket on the corner of Queens Road and St Stephens Street by a police patrol and was arrested.

Mr Landells appealed for leniency, saying that a new treatment plan for the addiction since his latest court ruling had not had a chance to be sorted. He added: 'This is a long-standing problem and not something anyone is going to be able to sort overnight.'

The decision on what to do next with Francis was deferred by chairman of the magistrates' bench, Ski Cator, until September 30. Francis was given bail.