Sunderland man fails to get sentence cut over snooker ball ‘weapon’

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A MAN who claimed the snooker ball in a sock found in his pocket was a toy for his dog has had his plea for a lighter sentence rejected.

Nathan Maughan, of Bramwell Road, Hendon, was sent to a young offenders’ institution for eight months at Durham Crown Court in September, after he admitted possessing an offensive weapon.

Lawyers for the 20-year-old said his sentence was too long, considering he was only carrying the weapon in self-defence because of fear of attack.

But two senior judges, sitting at London’s Court of Appeal, ruled that deterrent sentences were needed to stop makeshift weapons being carried on Britain’s streets, and upheld the detention term.

Mr Justice Globe told the court Maughan was stopped on his bike in Sunderland in August, and police found a snooker ball inside a sock, secured with tape, stuffed down his trousers.

Maughan said the instrument was the only “toy” his pet bull mastiff would not destroy, and he had forgotten he had put it in his trousers after playing with the animal earlier that day, the court heard.

Maughan, who had two previous convictions, eventually admitted possessing the weapon, and a letter from his mum said it was a response to threats their family had received.

Lawyers for Maughan told judges at the Court of Appeal that his sentence was “manifestly excessive” because he had not planned to attack anyone, and only carried the weapon to defend himself.

But Mr Justice Globe, sitting with Mr Justice Royce, said anyone who armed themselves in public encouraged a “culture of weapon carrying,” and contributed to a rise in serious attacks.

Rejecting the appeal, he told the court: “Every knife or weapon carried in the street represents a public danger and it is in the public interest that the carrying of them must be confronted and stopped.

“Sentences should focus on a reduction in the crime, including reduction by deterrence, even if the offender does no more than carry the weapon, even when the weapon is not used.”

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