South Shields shopfitter had axe as he slept in vehicle in Travelodge car park

A shopfitter who armed himself with a tool of his trade when forced to sleep in his car after a hotel booking blunder 300 miles from home has avoided being jailed.

But police found the axe after being called to Countess Service Station at Amesbury, Wiltshire, in the early hours of Friday, October 11, 2019, a court heard.
But police found the axe after being called to Countess Service Station at Amesbury, Wiltshire, in the early hours of Friday, October 11, 2019, a court heard.

Jamie Finn, 34, of Warkworth Avenue, South Shields, grabbed a hatchet from his tool box and put it in his trouser leg or the footrest of his motor after fearing trouble at his overnight pitstop.

But police found it after being called to Countess Service Station at Amesbury, Wiltshire, in the early hours of Friday, October 11, 2019, a court heard.

Finn armed himself after staff at the rest and refuel area’s Travelodge told him his booking had not been placed but gave him blankets to sleep overnight in his car.

He was jailed for eight weeks by magistrates in South Tyneside, who suspended his spell behind bars for a year.

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Prosecutor Leanne Duffy said: “The defendant and friends travelled from the North East to a Travelodge just after midnight.

“There was no room available, so staff gave them some blankets so they could sleep in the car.

“The police were called on an unrelated matter, and he was found in the car with a hatchet in his trouser leg.”

Joanne Gatens, defending, said: “The circumstances are that the defendant had been travelling to do some shopfitting and had been due to stay at the Travelodge.

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“He had the hatchet for the purpose of work. His normal purpose is lawful.

“They had to sleep in the car. There had been some reports of trouble, and he accepts that he took the tool out of his tool box and put it in the footwell.

“He didn’t take it out of the car, but he accepts that he had it in the car. There’s been no further offences since then.

“The starting point is six months’ custody, but I would respectfully submit that there’s no aggravating features.

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“He isn’t heavily convicted and has shown that he can comply with court orders.”

Finn, who has three previous convictions but nothing similar, and who pleaded guilty to possessing a bladed article in public, must pay a £128 victim surcharge and £85 court costs.

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