Bank teller stabbed in neck over $2 fee: court

A "CRIMINAL" $2 bank transaction fee was enough to tip a mentally ill man over the edge and stab a defenceless bank teller in the neck, the Northern Territory Supreme Court has heard.

John Anthony Calma, 34, has pleaded guilty to the October stabbing, which left a Commonwealth Bank staff member with a neck wound and ongoing psychological issues.

Marty Aust, for Calma, said his client wanted to withdraw "effectively his life savings" of $4.70 to buy some bread rolls when he was told the bank would have to deduct a standard $2 fee for an over-the-counter transaction.

"He was infuriated, he felt like he had been targeted," Mr Aust said.

The court heard an officer at the nearby Casuarina police station "giggled" at Calma when he went to complain about the fee, which he had a "genuine belief" was criminal.

The court heard Calma told police he decided to "deal with (the bank) in my own way".

Mr Aust said Calma routinely carried a knife "because he thinks people were out to get him" after years of run-ins with unscrupulous drug dealers.

"Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean people aren't out to get you," Mr Aust said.

Crown Prosecutor Tami Grealy said Calma was overheard saying "this is all your fault" as he walked out of the bank after the "particularly brazen" attack, which was caught on security camera.

Ms Grealy said Calma had shown a lack of remorse by maintaining "the reason for the offending is the bank fees".

She said while many people found banking frustrating, it was not acceptable for people to attack bank tellers.

Mr Aust said Calma "still really does have a legitimate concern about the way the bank dealt with him that day".

"(But) he does say he wishes he didn't hurt that lady".

He said the offending stabbing wasn't targeted, and Calma simply attacked the first person he saw in the bank uniform.

Calma, who was supported in court by family, became visibly emotional when Mr Aust recounted some of his struggles in life.

He said Calma's mental illness made jail more difficult for him than most inmates, and said an incident with guards had resulted in a badly broken arm.

Justice Jenny Blokland adjourned the matter until late July for the preparation of psychological reports.