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Third weapon charge but crook is spared jail
8:00am Friday 11th January 2013 in News
A MAN has been spared jail despite being caught carrying a 10-inch knife in Basildon town centre.
It is also the third time since 2007 that Ryan Kelly, 22, had been convicted of possessing a weapon in public.
But despite the Government introducing tougher knife offences in December, Kelly, of Ayletts, Basildon, was spared a stint behind bars by Judge David Owen-Jones.
Kelly was caught by police carrying the kitchen knife near Toys ’R’ Us in Basildon on November 10 last year, adding to convictions of weiling a baseball bat in 2010 and an unnamed weapon three years before that.
At Basildon Crown Court on Monday, Judge Owne-Jones said that he took an ‘exceptional course of action’ in letting Kelly walk free, because of the defendant’s early guilty plea, personal circumstances, and good behavoir during a previous suspended sentences.
On sentencing him to a 12 month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, he said: “The courts have made it perfectly clear that possession of a knife in a public place should carry an immediate jail sentence.
“But in this case I’m going to take a totally exceptional course of action.”
Last month, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling introduce a new offence of aggrivated posession of a knife, which carries a mandatory jail sentence, in a bid to arrest a slump in people being jailed because of knife offences.
But Kelly was charged with possession of an offensive weapon in public, and he had already pleaded guilty to the offence at an earlier hearing.
The court heard that Kelly was walking down a path in Long Riding on November 10 last year when he brushed shoulders with victim Dean Bruce.
The two initially apologised and walked on, but Mr Bruce turned around to find Kelly staring at him, and he subsequently brandished the knife and exchanged words with the victim.
Mr Bruce reported the offence to the police, who arrested Kelly minutes later and also found a small bag of cocaine on the defendant.
Representing himself in court, Kelly said: “I can’t be sorry enough.
“It is one of the biggest mistakes of my life. During the time I was in a bad place.”
He was also fined £200 and ordered to pay £200 costs.