Sunderland man spared immediate jail term despite being caught carrying a knife for the second time

A Sunderland man who claimed to have been rabbit hunting when caught with a blade by police has avoided jail – despite it being his second knife-carrying crime.

By Gareth Crickmer
Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 9:46 am

Magistrates in South Tyneside told Allan Walton, 22, of Neville Road, Pallion, his offence had crossed the custodial threshold and sentenced him to 26 weeks behind bars, but they suspended that for 18 months.

The court heard jobless Walton had also been found with a blade in October 2014, meaning he faced a minimum of six months behind bars due to the limited time between offences.

But after considering the case ‘in depth’ decided the did not want to jaill Walton for the latest offence, on Valentine’s Day last year, although they did warn him that if he commits any further offences in the next 18 months that he will go straight into custody.

The case was heard at South Tyneside Magistrates Court.

Brian Parkinson, chairman of the magistrates’ bench, told him: “We have discussed this case in depth. Because it’s your second possession of a knife offence, it has undoubtedly crossed the custodial threshold.

“We have suspended your sentence. The reason we did that was it would have punished you but we doubt it would have done you a great deal of good.

“Be warned, if you commit any offence within the next 18 months, the first thing the bench has to do is activate that sentence.”

Walton appeared at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court to be sentenced after he pleaded not guilty to knife possession at trial in January.

However, he was found guilty of the offence, and also admitted possession of cannabis.

At sentencing, the court heard Walton was stopped by police at 9pm on Thursday, February 14, last year, on an unrelated matter.

They found the knife, which he told them he had to snare rabbits but they found no evidence of that when they searched his car, spotting cannabis instead.

Prosecutor Eve McDonnell said: “Officers have approached a vehicle, standing in Exeter Street in Sunderland.

“He was detained for other matters and was asked if he had anything else they needed to know about.

“Cannabis bush was recovered and a plastic container with the cannabis bush. A knife in the pocket of his outer jacket was seized.”

Tracey Wood, defending, said Walton is immature for his age and he is sorry for committing the offences.

She old the court: “Mr Walton is genuinely remorseful for his actions.

“This is a gentleman who hasn’t committed any further offences since that date and hasn’t been brought before the courts since 2015.

“He’s 22 now, he’s not a mature 22-year-old. I would ask you to be as sympathetic as you can be.”

For the knife offence, Walton must undertake 25 rehabilitation days with the Probation Service and 150 hours of unpaid work, and pay a £122 victim surcharge.

There were no court costs and no separate penalty for the drugs charge, but magistrates ordered the confiscation of the cannabis and knife.