A man, who said he didn’t know his knuckleduster was an "offensive weapon" after police arrested him for trying to barge into St. James Wine Bar, has been fined £1,000.
Thomas Paul Clark (34) appeared in the Magistrate's Court yesterday, charged with one count of possession of an offensive weapon in a public place, which he admitted.
Assistant Magistrate Peter Harris heard that the incident took place just before 01:00 on 7 December 2021. Clark had tried to get into St. James Wine Bar and verbally abused the door staff, shouting at them as he tried to get in.
He also tried to push past one of the doormen, and according to witnesses, grabbed a knuckleduster from his pocket and put it on before putting his hand back in his pocket.
Pictured: Clark was sentenced in the Magistrate's Court this morning.
Police were called and Clark refused to move or comply with directions. He also refused to remove his hand from his pocket. A member of the public said they had seen the knuckleduster fall out of his pocket whilst he was being restrained by officers.
The Court heard there were matters relating to violence in Clark’s record, with the most recent conviction being in July 2021 for common assault and using threatening words.
Advocate James Bell, defending, said that the doorman who was dealing with Clark on the night had said he was swearing but not aggressive.
He said that Clark had stepped away, asked another man for a cigarette, which was declined and then produced the knuckleduster from his pocket.
“He didn’t confront anyone, he didn’t threaten anyone, it’s not suggested that he did,” he said, describing Clark’s actions as “unwise” and suggesting he may have been showing off.
“The offence is simply possession and it’s not tied to any threatening behaviour,” he added.
Advocate Bell said Clark had never taken the knuckleduster out before the night of the incident and explained it was because he had previously received threats.
Pictured: Advocate James Bell was defending Clark.
He also told Court that Clark had been under “some personal pressure” due to family matters and felt under “considerable stress”, which may have had an impact on his behaviour.
“He didn’t realise it was an offence to carry this item even if he had in mind some speculative need,” he added. “He now knows it was misguided… He accepts he didn’t have a lawful excuse. It was an error of judgment rather than an intentional flouting of the law.”
Advocate Bell assured the Court Clark would not make the same mistake again and related his apologies to everyone involved.
He urged the Court to impose a binding over order, which he said would be a warning to Clark that he must keep out of trouble.
The Assistant Magistrate told Clark that, had he used the weapon, he could have potentially caused “serious injury” and been imprisoned.
He also noted how Clark had got himself into a confrontational situation whilst in possession of the weapon.
He went on to say the offence was far too serious for a binding over order, before voicing his surprise that an online retailer would have shipped such an item.
Assistant Magistrate Harris concluded there should be a financial penalty and fined Clark £1,000 to be paid at a rate of £50 a week. He warned Clark that if he failed to pay, he would spend three weeks in prison.
He urged him to stop offending and keep working so that he also could pay his outstanding fines, noting: “You have the stress of other matters, this is the last thing you need”.
“Don’t put yourself in this position again,” he added. “Please keep out of trouble.”
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