A 34-YEAR-OLD man who tried to enter a St Helier bar while armed with a knuckle duster has been fined £1,000 – and warned that he might face prison if he offended again.
The Magistrate’s Court heard yesterday that Thomas Clark had bought the weapon from Amazon and took it with him when he went to St James Wine Bar, just before 1am on 7 December.
Legal adviser Howard Tobias, prosecuting, said: ‘He tried to get in and was verbally aggressive towards the door staff.
‘He tried to push past one of the doormen and reached into his pocket for the knuckle duster. He was seen shaking it to move it up his fingers.’
However, the court heard that Clark did not use it or threaten anyone with it. When the police arrived at the bar, a witness noticed Clark drop the knuckle duster on the ground.
The legal adviser added that Clark had previous convictions for violence and common assault, the most recent of which dated from July.
Advocate James Bell, defending, pointed out that Clark had pleaded guilty to the single charge of possession of an offensive weapon at the earliest opportunity.
He conceded: ‘He did have in his possession a knuckle duster, he did try to get into the premises and he did swear at the doorman.
‘But the doorman said that Mr Clark did not seem aggressive.
‘He was being unwise, and perhaps he was showing off, but the offence is simply possession. It is not tied in with any violence.’
He added that Clark had bought the item from the website for his own protection. ‘He had received threats at the end of last year. This was the first and only night he took it out,’ Advocate Bell said.
And he said Clark did not realise that it was illegal. ‘His ignorance of the law is no defence but it does explain what was an error of judgment, rather than an intentional flouting of the law.’
He asked the court to impose a binding-over order. However, Assistant Magistrate Peter Harris told Clark: ‘This is much too serious for a binding-over order.
‘If you had used it, it could have caused serious injury, which would have put you in prison.
‘Even though you didn’t use it, the risk was increased and that cannot be tolerated.’
Clark is currently paying fines for his previous offences. Imposing another one, Mr Harris warned: ‘There will come a point when you will stop just having fines and a court is going to send you to prison.
‘Don’t put yourself in this position again.’
He also ordered that the knuckle duster be destroyed.