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Suspended sentence for 'ecological' knife man

Homesless 29-year-old wanted to build a shelter, court told

John Garvey

John Garvey

john.garvey@newburynews.co.uk

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01635 886628

Court No.1 New

A HOMELESS man who carried a knife to make an ecological shelter in Newbury has received a suspended jail sentence.

Twenty-nine-year-old Jason James Lee choked back tears as he was told only a prison sentence could match the offence of carrying a hunting knife in public.

But the district judge sitting at Reading Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, May 30, suspended the sentence after hearing that Mr Lee wanted to build a temporary home with it.

Anne Sawyer-Brandish, prosecuting, said frightened members of the public called police after watching a man brandishing a large knife on land behind the Lock, Stock and Barrel pub in Newbury town centre.

She added: “It was clearly on display.

“The defendant was searched and a 23cm-long knife was found in his waistband.”

Mr Lee admitted unlawfully possessing a bladed article at Newbury Lock, off Bartholomew Street, on May 15.

Rob Jacques, defending, said his client had no previous convictions and pointed out that Mr Lee had not brandished the knife.

Indeed, he said, Mr Lee had volunteered the information that the blade was his when police began asking questions.

The court heard that Mr Lee had intended to build himself an ecological shelter from discarded wood and other materials, rather than use a commercial tent as a home.

The blade was to have been used for that – but a friend had grabbed it and brandished it, causing alarm to the public, the court was told.

Mr Jacques said Mr Lee had not watched television for 10 years and was out of touch with the concerns of wider society over knife crime.

The district judge said carrying a bladed article meant a prison sentence was inevitable but that under the circumstances it could be suspended.

Mr Lee was sentenced to 12 weeks in jail, suspended for six months.

In addition, he was ordered to carry out 60 hours unpaid work with 10 days rehabilitation activity.

Finally, Mr Lee was ordered to pay £85 costs, plus a statutory victim services surcharge of £200.

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