Our client was a 34-year-old male, self-employed electrician/builder/handyman undertaking casual work was charged with possession of a bladed article in a public place under S.139.(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 1988, which states “Any person who has an article to which this section applies with him in a public place shall be guilty of an offence”. Unless, under s.139.(4) “had good reason or lawful authority for having the article with him in a public place”. The starting point for being in possession of a bladed article with no good reason, without aggravating factors is a 6-month custodial sentence, the range being between 3 months custody up to 12 months.
He originally contacted our Mr Titchener who secured legal aid for him, and with paralegal Emma Llanwarne the case was fully prepared for Trial.
On the day of the incident, the defendant had been working at his brother’s house fixing lights in his summer house. That morning the defendant carried his tools in a bag and put the Stanley knife in his pocket, as these were the tools, he needed to complete the work.
When the work was completed, the defendant left his brothers house and proceed to walk to the station. On the way to the station, the defendant was offered and accepted a lift home by his friend who was driving in that direction. Ten minutes into the journey home the car was stopped by a police car. The officer said that the car had taken its time to pull in. The driver and the driver’s passenger were forcefully pulled out of the car and placed in handcuffs. The car was then searched, and the defendant was found in the back seat. He was asked to get out of the car, placed in handcuffs and then searched by one of the officers. The officer found the defendants Stanley knife in his pocket and informed the other officers. The defendant was then cautioned and taken to the police station and charged.
When the defendant appeared for his first appearance in the Magistrates Court, he pleaded not guilty to possession of a bladed article in a public place on the grounds that he had reasonable excuse and the matter was set down for a one-day trial.
The issue at trial whether the Defendant had a good reason to be carrying a bladed article.
The defence relied on the appeal case of R v Chahal 2010, a slightly dated case, but nonetheless a relevant one which facts are similar to this case. In Chahal, the court found that “I do not consider that the casual nature of the appellant’s employment was enough to deprive him of the statutory defence”. After a one-day trial, the defendant was acquitted of the offence, with the Magistrates concluding that, “taken as a whole (the defence case) we find you had reasonable excuse”.