Drug users in Exeter are turning to a tranquilizer called Xanax to get off their heads, magistrates have been told.

Michael Hunter, 22, threatened to smash a woman’s face with a dumbbell after being woken by a smoke alarm in his flat.

He blamed his violent mood swing on taking two tablets of Xanax, a potent, short-acting minor tranquilizer.

His solicitor Vanessa Francis told magistrates in Exeter: “Xanax is flavour of the month with young people. We hear about it almost every time we are in interviews with police. When it is combined with cannabis it can have extremely unhelpful effects. It is very cheap and seems to be what everyone is taking.”

Hunter admitted criminal damage by damaging a wall, two fire alarms, and a wooden coat hook at the YMCA where he was living on August 22.

He also pleaded guilty to assaulting a 19-year-old woman who lived in a neighbouring room.

Prosecutor Lyndsey Baker said Hunter started acting aggressively after his smoke alarm woke him up.

He told staff he had punched it off the ceiling. Witnesses said he was staggering around and appeared to have taken drugs.

Hunter then went to the door of a neighbouring room and threatened the teenage woman with a dumbbell, calling her a ‘snotty b***h and saying ‘I’m going to smash your head in’.

Ms Baker said another resident stood between the pair and Hunter left. No physical violence took place.

Hunter told police he had taken two tablets of Xanax and ‘just wanted to go mental’.

The defendant has seven previous convictions to his name, including one for violence.

Xanax is the trade name of alprazolam, which is a benzodiazepine used to treat anxiety disorders. It is not available on the NHS and can only be obtained by private prescription.

Ms Francis said Hunter was horrified by his actions and could not remember any of the incident. He said he would not have harmed anybody.

 Hunter was currently unable to carry out unpaid work because of his anxiety and depression. He had previously lived with mum but had moved into the YMCA after she got fed up with his cannabis use.Ms Francis said the defendant had now moved back home to Wynford Road and had given up Xanax.Magistrates gave him a 12-month community order and told him to pay £120 in compensation and a £20 fine.
[“source=devonlive”]