Man sentenced over stun gun which he thought was a novelty torch

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POLICE uncovered a Taser stun gun in the form of a knuckle duster hidden behind an electric fire during the search of a house in South Tyneside.

Magistrates in South Tyneside were told the weapon, which was fully functional, was found 
at the home of Paul Brannon in College Road, Hebburn, on March 25 last year.

The court heard that Brannon bought the weapon at a market in Holland in the belief that it was a novelty torch, but, when he realised its real use, he hid it behind a fireplace with the intention of handing it in if there was a police weapons amnesty.

Brannon, 39, admitted a charge of possession of a prohibited weapon and possession of a Class B drug.

He was placed on a 12-month community order incorporating 100 hours of unpaid work.

Additionally, he was ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £60, and £85 court costs.

Glenda Beck, prosecuting, said: “During the search, cannabis leaves were found in dining room and a Taser in the living room, hidden behind an electric fire.

“Additionally, there was a large amount of cannabis in kitchen.

“Police firearms experts examined the electronic stun gun, which was in the form of a knuckle duster.

“It was made of plastic and had an electrode with an internal battery. It was tested and it functioned correctly.

“In the opinion of the officers the stun gun constituted a prohibited weapon.”

Ian Cassidy, defending, said: “What happened in this case is that Mr Brannon travelled to Holland some time ago and went to a market stall and he bought this item.

“What he thought he was buying was a novelty torch because it has what I’d describe as a light fitting.

“He brought it back and a friends told him ‘that’s not a torch, it’s something more significant’

“He looked it up on the internet and found it was a Taser-type item.

“Once he realised that he didn’t know what to do with it. He knew that if he handed it into the police, he was potentially still committing an offence.

“He thought there may be a police weapon amnesty at some point, so he put it out of use and left it there and forget about it and waited for an amnesty.

He had no intention of using it.

“Mr Brannon hasn’t used any cannabis for eight months and that is a huge step for him.”