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Legal highs blamed for Birchington man Martin Solomon's catalogue of bizarre offences as he is detained under Mental Health Act

By Paul Hooper

For 42 years, Martin Solomon lived a law-abiding life... and then he discovered legal highs and unwisely became addicted.

And, in the space of a few months, his daily cocktail of highs and cannabis led him to committing a series of bizarre offences - including burning his wife's favourite teddy bear on an oven.

Now a judge at Canterbury Crown Court has sent Solomon, of Acol Hill, Birchington to a hospital for mental health treatment.

Legal highs are a growing problem
Legal highs are a growing problem

The case comes amid the KM Group's High Time campaign to crack down on the menace of legal highs - after it was revealed the county has more shops selling the substances than anywhere else in Britain.

Solomon's bizarre offending after taking legal highs included:

  • scratching the face of his wife, an MS sufferer, with a ring
  • burningher favourite teddy bear on the oven
  • stalking a bank worker
  • throwing himself on the floor of the bank and crying on thecashier's day off
  • buying her horse-riding gear and inviting her to spend theday with him
  • when she refused the gifts, he snarled: 'You will be thenext Peaches Geldof
  • and eventually claiming to be God and passed a death sentence onhis terrified victim

Judge James O'Mahony said: "He is a man who clearly has problems, some of them self-induced, by taking legal highs or something."

Solomon, who admitted five charges of common assault, damaging property and harassment, arrived at court in the company of a mental health nurse and his loyal wife Joanne.

His barrister Paul Hogben told the judge: "This is a sad case because this gentleman has led a law-abiding life. He then ran into a very difficult period in his life - there were personal reasons.

"He then made the mistake of using legal highs without realising just what effect they might have upon him.

"He is a gentleman who had a mild form of autism and was easily led into it and saw it as a refuge. He now realises that this has been a very important lesson to him."

Prosecutor Lucy Luttman outlined the breakdown brought about by his addiction – and which led to Mrs Solomon making a complaint to police on March 6 this year.

She said: "That complaint was about domestic violence at the hands of the defendant. They had moved from Canterbury 18 months earlier.

"And at that point, the defendant had started taking large amounts of cannabis and legal highs, leading to very erratic behaviour and mood swings. He had become abusive and controlling."

The prosecutor told how on one occasion, Solomon walked into his wife's bedroom and stole her teddy bear while she was sleeping.

"She suffers from Multiple Sclerosis and he grabbed her hair and took the teddy bear," said the prosecutor. "He went down to the kitchen and put it on the lit hob and burned it.

"Although there was no particular financial value there was substantial sentimental value."

A user smokes a legal high. Picture: Library image
A user smokes a legal high. Picture: Library image

A couple of days later, Solomon was standing next to his wife and raised his fist before scraping his hand down her face while wearing a ring, leaving her with a sore face.

Ms Luttman told how the drug-user then turned his attentions towards a cashier at a local bank in Margate.

She said: "He became fixated with her, and during a six-week period attended the bank at least twice a week, originally on legitimate banking business.

"However, he became more and more obsessive with her and would not see anyone else and began telling her exaggerated stories about his life with celebrities."

The judge said: "That's very disturbing and worrying for someone (the cashier) in that position."

The prosecutor added: "And it took a far more sinister turn in early April when he turned up at the bank with gifts for her.

"She thought he must have overheard a discussion she had with someone else that she was a keen horsewoman."

The case was heard at Canterbury Court
The case was heard at Canterbury Court

The victim refused the gifts, but Solomon just left the gear - returning a few days later only to discover she was away on annual leave.

Ms Luttman said: "At that, he threw himself on the floor of the bank and openly wept. She returned two days later and he returned with more gifts, a horse T-shirt and two key rings.

"And when she took them out of politeness, he just stood there for an inordinate amount of time before asking if they could spend the day together.

"Now you have gone seriously off the rails, so you had better not take any more highs again - legal or illegal. You made that cashier's life miserable and terrified..." - Judge James O'Mahony

"She pointedly told him no and he became increasingly angry, demanding to know her surname. When she declined he shouted: 'Do as you are f****** told , I'm God!' and told her she was going to die.

"The next day he returned and went to the employee and demanded cash from his own account and when she asked for identity, he replied: 'Do as you are f****** told' before pacing up and down mumbling incoherently to himself.

"To calm him down she handed over the money and he then erupted and he told her she would pay for turning him down."

Solomon then made threats of rape and murder and told his terrified victim "she would be the next Peaches Geldof and said she should sleep with one eye open".

The druggie then claimed to know where she lived and where her horses were stabled and threatened to take out the eyes of her animals and cut them.

The prosecutor said he then went to another store and threatened to kill a female employee after she refused to give him cigarette papers.

Judge James O' Mahony
Judge James O' Mahony

The judge ordered Solomon to stay away from the cashier indefinitely and made an order under Section 37 of the Mental Health Act meaning he will stay in hospital until doctors think he is able to be released.

Judge O'Mahony told him: "This is not a soft option because you quite clearly have serious problems. You are nearly 43 and you have never committed an offence before.

"Now you have gone seriously off the rails, so you had better not take any more highs again - legal or illegal. You made that cashier's life miserable and terrified."

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