A FORMER undertaker narrowly escaped jail after pulling a knife of his friend as joke in Wokingham town centre last year.

Paul Hallahan of Foxcote, Wokingham was leaving The Courtyard on Market Street on May 16 with three friends when he drunkenly pulled the three-inch knife out his pocket and put it to his friend’s neck.

The 29-year-old was play fighting with his friends after smashing a bottle of vodka on the ground when he pulled out the knife and ‘jokingly’ pretended to stab his friend before being arrested.

Hallahan had been using the knife earlier in the day for some gardening work but he claimed that he did not remember pulling out the knife and was surprised that he had it on his body.

However, his defence , Andrew Storch, said that he was very depressed at the the time following his work as an undertaker and that he never intended to use the knife.

He said: “He was very affected by the job that he worked as and he even had to deal with the body of a friend who had been murdered.

“He absolutely does not remember pulling out the knife and he thought he had left it in his pocket and had never intended to use it.

But, Judge Sarah Campbell, despite acknowledging that the knife was blunt said that the incident was reckless and intimidating to the public.

She said: “You left a pub in Wokingham with three friends and seemed to be drunk and shouting and swearing when you smashed a bottle of vodka.

“You were seen by a member of the public brandishing a knife that you were using in a stabbing motion on your friend. She then described you then raising the knife to the neck of your friend before you were arrested.”

“The knife that I have seen was blunt but it could have still caused serious if used and the fact that a member of the public had to call the police means that she must have felt very threatened. This is a rather unusual event and the sentence I pass is one of four months imprisonment for this offence but it will be suspended for 18 months.”