A MAN who terrified staff and diners in two restaurants and threatened to stab two men in the street has been given four months to show he's turned his life around.

A judge deferred sentencing Benjamin Clare, 35, of Severn Drive, Taunton, who had previously admitted three counts of using threatening words and behaviour, leaving a restaurant without paying, possessing a knife in a public place and breaching a suspended sentence order.

Emma Martin, prosecuting, told Taunton Crown Court that Clare and a friend left without paying the £98.78 bill at Frankie and Benny's, in Yeovil, on March 3.

She said he was "unpleasant and abusive, squaring up to members of staff" in front of "alarmed customers" before shoulder barging an employee as he left.

Then on April 9 at 3am, he threatened to stab two men having a cigarette in the street in the town before they managed to dive into the pub where they worked and locked the door.

He ordered a meal in KFC, Yeovil, on May 20, and complained about the food, becoming abusive to staff in front of customers, including a number of children.

Mrs Martin said Clare told staff: "I'm a gypsy. I'll come back with my gypsy friends and I'll do you in. I do jail for fun."

Eight days later, he went to his father's home asking for help and started self-harming before leaving with a knife.

Father-of-six Clare was later arrested by police, who found him hiding in a loft in a house in Taunton.

Patrick Mason, defending, said his client had been homeless and had been living on the streets in Bristol, taking hard drugs and drinking heavily to make himself "numb" ahead of his crimes.

"He doesn't recognise himself in that behaviour," said Mr Mason, referring to his actions in Yeovil.

He has since been put up by a businesswoman in Taunton, where he was locked in a bedroom for a few weeks when he went cold turkey, reminiscent of a scene from the film Trainspotting, said Mr Mason.

Judge David Ticehurst told Clare he deserves to go to prison for his "absolutely appalling" behaviour, but he decided to defer sentencing for four months.

If Clare stays out of trouble he will avoid jail, but if he reoffends or goes back on drugs he could be sent to prison for between 14 and 16 months.