Man found with knuckle duster in South Shields street after drinking vodka, lager and cider in afternoon session

A South Tyneside man downed a booze cocktail before grabbing a knuckle duster, a court heard.

Joseph Spooner, 34, drank vodka, lager and cider during an afternoon session in company with a pal at his partner’s South Shields property. But he returned home to Hollingside Way, Harton Moor, South Shields, and picked up the weapon on Thursday, September 1.

Witnesses spotted him brandishing it in a public grassed area in adjoining Hathersage Gardens – and disarmed him. Spooner could remember nothing of the incident and told police he was unsure if he had also smoked cannabis.

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Prosecutor Stephanie Cook told borough magistrates: “A witness saw the defendant standing on a grassed residential area. He has approached by a third party while carrying a yellow knuckle duster and brandishing it in the air.

The case was dealt with in South Shields at South Tyneside Magistrates' Court.

“It was taken from his pocket by another witness, and the police were contacted, and the weapon was seized. During interview, he said that he couldn’t remember having it and that it had been to given to him by someone.”

Spooner pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of an offensive weapon in public at an earlier hearing. The court heard he has eight previous convictions from 18 offences, and was last before the courts in 2011.

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In a victim statement, a witness said: “I would like to say that the incident has made me very anxious and fearful of my safety in case I bump into him.”

A Probation Service report said Spooner was a cannabis user and he was unsure if he had used the drug that day.

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Kashif Khan, defending, conceded Spooner had a drink problem and that alcohol had fired the incident.

Mr Khan added: “He still maintains there wasn’t any direct threat on his part, but he concedes he may have caused someone to fear a threat. He has drink problem, that’s evident. It’s been going on for a while and has come to a head with this offence. As you can see, he’s not someone who goes around arming himself. Drink has taken control of his life.”

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Magistrates sentenced Spooner to an 18-month community order, with 15 rehabilitation days and a year-long alcohol treatment programme. He was fined £120, with a £114 victim surcharge and £85 court costs, and must forfeit the knuckle duster.