TOP JUDGES issued a warning to people caught carrying knives as they refused to alter the sentence handed to an Eastbourne drug addict caught with a Stanley knife blade.
Echoing a previous judgment given by the Lord Chief Justice of England, Lord Judge, Mr Justice Hickinbottom told London’s Criminal Appeal Court that the carrying of a knife – even without any intention to use it – is a serious crime and the courts will do whatever they can to stop offenders.
He made his comments as he dismissed an appeal by 22-year-old Ricky Lester Tourle, of Upperton Gardens, against an eight-month jail term for possessing a bladed article.
Tourle was sentenced at Lewes Crown Court in March after admitting the offence – along with two counts of theft and failing to surrender to bail.
The court heard he warned officers about the blade - which he said he used to cut drugs - as they searched his rucksack after arresting him for shoplifting from Tesco in Eastbourne, in February.
He had a string of previous convictions for carrying weapons – including a meat cleaver which he had brandished aggressively – and others for violence.
His lawyers argued the sentence was ‘too long’ for his crime, saying the crown court judge didn’t take enough account of the fact the blade was not intended to be used as a weapon.
But, dismissing the appeal, Mr Justice Hickinbottom said carrying a bladed item was always a ‘serious offence’, regardless of whether there was an intention to use it, because of the devastating consequences that may occur if it was used.
Referring to the earlier ruling of the court, in which the Lord Chief Justice outlined the gravity of carrying knives, Mr Justice Hickinbottom said, “We stress that the serious offence referred to is the possession of a knife or other bladed article, without anything more, without it being used, or without any intention that it should be used.”
The judge, sitting with Sir Anthony May and Mrs Justice Thirlwall, added, “The crown court judge was perfectly entitled to take the view that the appellant having a blade in a public place posed a danger to members of the public. We consider that a sentence of eight months, whilst possibly severe, is not manifestly excessive.”