Man tried to smuggle tear gas into Sunderland’s Passion nightclub

Passion nightclub in Holmeside, Sunderland.
Passion nightclub in Holmeside, Sunderland.
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A REVELLER bought CS gas online and tried to smuggle it into a city centre nightclub.

Matthew Berry was caught trying to take a can of the tear gas into Sunderland’s Passion club on July 9, and claimed he bought the weapon to defend himself.

Sunderland Magistrates’ Court heard door staff confiscated the illegal weapon and police were called.

The 23-year-old pleaded guilty to an offence of possessing a weapon which can discharge noxious gas, a charge brought under the Firearms Act.

Janice Bellamy, prosecuting, said Berry, from Castletown in Sunderland, concealed the CS canister in his right-hand jeans’ pocket until it was found during a routine search by staff.

She said: “He was asked what it was and said it was CS gas. Police were called and the defendant arrested.

“The item was tested and confirmed it was CS gas. He said he had purchased it from Amazon and it was purchased from another country.

“He said he bought it over concerns for his safety, after problems with another male.”

The court heard Berry, of Alder Street, was given a community order in 2009 for possession of a blade.

His solicitor, Ian Cassidy, said this offence was also as a result of Berry trying to defend himself.

Mr Cassidy said: “He bought it advertised as something for your own protection. It was sent to him in the post via Amazon.

“He thought it was something he could lawfully have. It is one of these offences that is a strict liability offence, that as soon as you have it, you are committing an offence.

“He had been the victim of a fairly serious assault, and said he used to mix with a different type of people.

“He had very significant head injuries and had a knife to protect himself.

“He realised that it could lead to difficulties, as it was illegal.

“The reason he got this gas canister was to protect himself. He was assaulted a second time and has plates in his cheeks.

“He was told by his surgeon if you are attacked a third time, it is likely you will have long-term damage.”

Chairman of the bench Keith Swan said: “You need to realise that it is not acceptable to go out in public carrying a weapon of any sort, as you could quite easily end up being the aggressor and end up in much more trouble.”

Berry was fined £110, ordered to pay £85 towards court costs and a £20 victim surcharge.