A MAN was caught with an airgun – after wrestling it from somebody else.
Sunderland magistrates heard how Jamie Atkinson took the weapon off a man after a scuffle outside a store in Concord, Washington, last month.
But as he walked away with it, he was spotted and stopped by police.
The 24-year-old was due to stand trial for possessing an air weapon in public, but did not turn up and was found guilty in his absence.
Prosecutor Stan Sudworth said he did not know what had happened to the other man.
Sandra Fife, defending Atkinson, of Dorcas Terrace, Concord, said he had been seen on CCTV wrestling the gun away from the man as he came out of the shop.
She said: “He says he took it off him because it was in a public place, to prevent him having it in a public place.”
The court heard that the gun was made safe by firearms officers, but the gas cartridges and ball bearings inside had already been removed by the original owner.
No one had been threatened with the gun, Mrs Fife added, saying: “As far as an offence of this kind goes, it is an innocuous as you can get.”
Probation officer Vicky Brown said Atkinson had been released from prison in June on other matters and had been complying with the conditions of his licence.
Magistrates ordered he serve a 12-month community order with 50 hours of unpaid work.
Atkinson must also pay a £60 victim surcharge and £85 court costs.
Magistrates ordered the gun to be destroyed.