A FORMER soldier who packed a meat cleaver in his car before going to a cinema in South Tyneside with his girlfriend has been hit with a court bill of nearly £1,000.
The weapon was discovered under the driver’s seat of John Pearson’s Audi A3 after he had crashed on the southbound carriageway of the A19, in West Boldon, at about 9pm on Wednesday, October 10, last year.
Pearson told magistrates he was due to use the cleaver in an Army training exercise the following day, and had packed his vehicle the evening before to save time ahead of setting off at 4.30am for his base in Catterick.
Pearson, who was a member of the Scots Guards at the time, had gone to Boldon Cinema with his girlfriend and was travelling home when the crash occurred.
He pleaded not guilty to a charge of possessing a blade during a trial on Monday, claiming it was for work use – to cut ropes and logs during operations in the field – but was convicted by magistrates.
He admitted three motoring charges – making a false statement to obtain insurance, using a motor vehicle without insurance and driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence – at the hearing.
The court heard Pearson, of The Crescent, West Rainton, County Durham, had not disclosed to his insurers penalty points on his licence from a speeding offence in 2009, or that he had been disqualified from driving as a result.
The offences were only discovered after the crash.
Pearson has served in Afghanistan, and was with the Army for nine years until December of last year, when he was medically discharged.
He said he had purchased the cleaver himself and had put it in a sheath under the driving seat, but it had been knocked out of the casing by the force of the crash.
John Grierson, defending, said Pearson had been convicted of possession of the blade on the basis he could have packed it away.
He added: “He is a man of good character and goes beyond that, as he served Queen and country for many years.”
The court heard that Pearson was not at fault for the crash.
Magistrates chairwoman Dorothy Gibson fined Pearson £345 and ordered him to pay court trial costs of £600 and a victim surcharge of £34, making a total court bill of £979.
His driving licence was also endorsed with six penalty points for the motoring offences.