A knifeman who threatened to spray police with ammonia during a three-hour siege in Exmouth has been jailed.

Wayne Messenger was being hunted by police after pulling a knife on customers in the beer garden of the Merchant pub and was traced to a flat in St Andrews Road after going into the nearby Bank pub with the blade in his waistband.

He refused to come out and told officers he had a bottle containing ammonia which he was willing to use if they went in. Officers also say him brandishing a golf club during the stand off last month.

Messenger was still on prison licence for previous offences of violence and has 73 convictions which include a robbery, an assault causing grievous bodily harm, weapons and firearms offences.

He was jailed for two years by Judge Stephen Climie at Exeter Crown Court and urged to seek help for serious psychiatric issues while in custody.

Messenger, aged 40, previously of Church Street, Exmouth, but now of no fixed abode, admitted making threats with a knife and possession of a bladed article.

Judge Climie told him that an immediate sentence was inevitable because of his previous convictions. The two years included a six months mandatory sentence for a second offence involving a knife.

He told Messenger: “I understand completely that you are not a well man. You remain a risk not only to yourself but to others. You need to accept as much assistance as you can from the mental health team while in custody.”

Mr Lewis Aldous, prosecuting, said Messenger went into the garden at The Merchant, on the Strand in Exmouth at around 8 pm on June 21 and was filmed on CCTV walking towards a shed where a group of people were drinking.

He had a knife with him and one of the men inside the shed responded by removing his jacket, producing a knife of his own and approaching Messenger. The two were separated by other drinkers and Messenger was chucked out of the pub.

He turned up two hours later at the Bank pub in St Andrews Road with the knife in the waistband of his trousers but was refused service and left. Police tracked him down to a flat where he was living nearby.

There was then a three-hour stand-off in which he threatened to squirt ammonia at the police and brandished a golf club. Messenger was eventually arrested at 2 am the next morning.

He was held in custody because he had recently been released from jail for an earlier assault and was still on licence. He has 34 previous convictions for 73 offences including violence and weapons.

Miss Zoe Kuyken, defending, said Messenger’s mental problems resulted him in imagining he could hear screaming and he went into the Merchant beer garden because thought a woman was in distress.

She said: “He is aware he made a terrible mistake that day and regrets it. None of the other people in the beer garden wanted to cooperate with police and it seems they knew him.”