Drugs suspect ‘thought Taser was a novelty torch’

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A DAD who landed himself in court after police found a Taser during a drug swoop at his home said he thought the weapon was a novelty torch.

Officers discovered the item, along with a quantity of cannabis, during the raid at Paul Brannan’s property in College Road, Hebburn.

The 39-year-old admitted charges of possession of a Class B drug and possession of the weapon at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.

Magistrates were told that Brannan had stashed away the Taser – which he had bought on a trip to Holland – after a pal had alerted him to what it was.

Ian Simpson, prosecuting, said: “On Wednesday, March 26, police executed a search warrant under the misuse of drugs act at Brannan’s address on College Road, Hebburn.

“They found cannabis in the property and a Taser in the living room, behind an electric fire.

“As a result, he was arrested by police.

“He said the cannabis was for his own personal use.”

Ian Cassidy, defending, said: “He was a user of cannabis at the time, on a fairly regular basis. The drugs seized were for his own use.

“The more serious matter is the weapon, a Taser found behind a fire. He tells me he bought it on a trip to Holland at a market stall.

“He thought it was a novelty torch.

“A friend later told him it was a Taser, which is illegal to possess in this country.

“Under strict liability laws, he was guilty of possessing it, even though he didn’t know at first what it was.

“So he put it out of harm’s way and never used it.

“He was hoping a weapons amnesty would be launched by the police, so he could hand it in, with no questions asked.

“But it was discovered during the police search.

“There was no intention to use the weapon to harm anyone, he bought it in good faith.

“He has two children, 7 and 11, and is a divorcee.

“He has learnt a very serious lesson in terms of purchasing the item.”

Irene Lavender, chair of the magistrates, asked for a probation report to be prepared on Brannan ahead of sentencing.

Brannan will be back at the court for his sentencing date on January 12.

He was granted unconditional bail until then.”

Twitter: @shieldsgazchris