Anti-crime campaigner jailed for having a knife in Finsbury Park

A REFORMED mugger who fronted an Islington Council campaign to combat robbery has been locked up for carrying a knife.

Graphic designer Janni Oswald, of Victoria Road, Finsbury Park, became the face of the Islington Crime Reduction Partnership’s “Be Aware, Street Robbers” campaign in 2001, and even designed the posters for it.

Then 21, Oswald became an inspiration to other youngsters looking to go straight by speaking honestly and passionately about how he had hauled himself out of a life of crime.

He stayed out of trouble for ten years, but on September 15 this year police found him loitering with a kitchen knife near Station Place, outside Finsbury Park station.

Oswald - who is under treatment for schizophrenia, delusions and hallucinations - claimed that he carried the knife because of “dangerous people in the world” and expressed fears about the Chinese military and plotters planning to rob the British government.

He pleaded guilty to possession of a bladed article in public and last week at Blackfriars Crown Court he Judge Daniel Worsley made a Section 37 hospital order under the Mental Health Act, sending Oswald to a secure psychiatric hospital.

Judge Worsley said “It is an alarming offence. The knife was not used on anybody or produced to threaten anybody. But knives are very frightening things for people to carry.”

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Oswald began smoking cannabis at the age of 11 and went onto carry out hundreds of muggings during his teens. By the time he fronted the council campaign, he also had convictions for grievous bodily harm, attempted robbery and affray, but he was determined to pay back society by getting others like him onto the straight and narrrow.

His posters featured the words “Street robbers....don’t be tempted”, and he was hailed by Police Sergeant John Hourihan, community safety officer at Islington Council at the time, for helping the police reduce street robbery.

In 2001, Oswald said: “As a mugger you’re always watching your back. I wanted to be a normal person with a normal job and normal life.

“I used to be bad but I’m a community guy now and am really sorry for the things I’ve done.”

Oswald will be returned to Chase Farm Hospital for continuing treatment, but Judge Worsley ruled that doctors can apply for the hospital order to be lifted once they feel treatment has been successful.