Sunderland man came home from holiday with weapons in suitcase

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A HOLIDAYMAKER lost the high-flying job he had gone abroad to celebrate getting when he brought a weapon back to the UK as a souvenir.

Paul Armstrong and four pals jetted off to Cyprus before he started a management role which would take him away from home for long spells in London and Zurich.

Newcastle Crown Court heard after a spending spree at the holiday gift shop, the 26-year-old was stopped at the airport with a stun gun disguised as a torch, an extendable baton and a knuckle duster, packed in his luggage on the way back.

The stun gun, which was examined in court by the judge, was capable of administering an electrical discharge which would cause a victim to “startle and repel”.

Armstrong, of Bideford Street, Sunderland, pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm and two offensive weapons and lost the job before he even started it.

Judge John Milford, QC, said: “The general public need to be warned about the gravity of bringing home such souvenirs.

“What he did was foolish. It must be realised that the court takes very seriously the bringing into this country of those items.

“A stun gun is, within the legislation of this country, a firearm. It is an extremely serious offence to possess one.

“It is highly undesireable that they should be in circulation in this country.”

The judge said a prison sentence was not necessary in Armstrong’s case, as there was no suggestion he would use the weapons, had never been in trouble before and has found new employment. Judge Milford added: “He had an extremely good job lined up.

“As a consequence of these proceedings, which he had to reveal to his perspective employers, he lost that job.”

Armstrong was sentenced to eight months imprisonment, suspended for two years, with £2,000 costs. The offences happened in the summer of 2013.

Glen Gatland, defending, said; “He went on holiday to Cyprus with four friends who had been to school together.

“The reason he went was because he had been offered a job as IT project manager with retail branches in London and Zurich.

“He would have been moving away and not able to see his friends.”

The court heard three of the friends who had been on the holiday with Armstrong received warnings after batons and knuckle dusters were found in their luggage.

Mr Gatland said the weapons were bought from the “corner shop” in Cyprus and Armstrong had been given the knuckle duster free with his other purchases.