Man planned to use disguised tear gas canister for a ‘practical joke’

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A MAN bought a tear gas canister from an online auction site to play a practical joke on his friend.

Steven Marshall, 34, bought the item, which was disguised as a cigarette lighter, on eBay and planned to trick a friend into using it to light a cigarette, Sunderland magistrates heard.

Tear gas works by irritating mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, mouth and lungs, and causes crying, sneezing, coughing, difficulty breathing, pain in the eyes, and temporary blindness.

Police found the ‘lighter’, featuring a trigger button and containing a red-coloured liquid, in Marshall’s home in January.

Officers were executing a search warrant under the Misuse of Drugs Act at the address in Stridingedge, Blackfell, Washington, and also found some cannabis bush, prosecutor Sarah Guest said.

Marshall was arrested and told police the drugs, worth about £30, were for his own use, and that he had bought the tear gas on eBay using a friend’s account.

Marshall admitted possessing a Class B drug and a weapon for the charge of a noxious liquid or gas, or electrical incapacitation device, under Section 5 of the Firearms Act.

“He bought it legitimately off eBay, not realising he wasn’t meant to have it,” defence solicitor Philippa Wylie said.

“He knew it was tear gas. He and one of his friends play practical jokes on each other, that’s why he bought it. He never discharged it himself. It’s not left his house at all as far as I’m aware.”

Marshall, an unemployed HGV driver, was fined £130 and told to pay £80 costs and £20 victim surcharge.