A man who pulled a knife when he was caught trying to steal six T-bone steaks from a supermarket was sent to jail Monday in St. John's.

James William Lucas, 36, was arrested in September after he tried to steal steaks from a Sobeys store on Topsail Road.

Provincial court in St. John's was told that when an employee stopped him, Lucas pulled out a large knife and said, "I'm going to f***ing kill you."

Lucas slashed the employee twice, giving him two gashes. One of them was 4.5 centimetres long.

When a security guard intervened, Lucas swung the knife over her head, saying, "You aren't going to eat after this. I'm going to kill you."

Lucas was high on Valium and morphine at the time, court was told.

In determining the sentence, Judge James Walsh said the threats must have been very frightening for both of the supermarket workers.

"There was no degree of planning" for the thefts, Walsh said, adding that by bringing a concealed knife, Lucas had prepared himself for what he might do if caught.

Walsh said Lucas, who had earlier pleaded guilty to robbery, two counts of assault with a weapon, uttering threats and other charges, was lucky he didn't wound the employee more seriously.

Walsh noted that Lucas has a long criminal record, going back to when he was 15. His convictions inlcude nine thefts, two attempted thefts over $5,000, and assault causing bodily harm.

With files from Glenn Payette