A man who held a knife to the back of a 75-year-old woman at a shopping centre in the Hunter, triggering a tense siege that ended only when he was Tasered by police, has pleaded guilty to five offences.
David William Clarke, 47, was agitated, paranoid and possibly suffering from a mental illness when he approached the woman outside the shops on Yambo Street, Morisset Square, about 2.20pm on November 23 last year.
He told her her "come here" and then "don't move" before holding the knife to her back.
The woman told police she was too scared to try to get away and she tried to talk to the man, who said his name was David.
The victim began mouthing the words "help me" to other shoppers and tried slowly to move away, but Clarke tightened his grip on her and held the knife to her kidney area.
It wasn't until a passing police officer saw the distressed woman and asked "Do you know this man?" that the terrifying situation became clear.
The police officer repeatedly yelled for Clarke to put the knife down, but he replied, "F--- off."
The officer drew her firearm, and negotiated with him for several minutes to release the woman.
Clarke eventually complied, but refused to drop the knife.
More police arrived and, when Clarke still wouldn't drop the knife, they Tasered him, but he still maintained control of the weapon.
It wasn't until he was Tasered inside the shopping centre complex that the knife could be secured and Clarke was arrested.
The woman was "extremely shaken" and had to go to hospital due to paramedics' concerns about her level of shock.
Clarke was represented by solicitor Matthew Unwin on Wednesday when he pleaded guilty to being armed with intent to commit an indictable offence, using an offensive weapon to prevent lawful detention, affray, common assault and wielding a knife in a public place.
Mr Unwin negotiated with the Director of Public Prosecutions for the charges to remain in the Local Court, where Clarke will face lesser maximum penalties.
He will be sentenced in October, when Mr Unwin will make submissions that Clarke had a mental illness at the time of the offence.