AN aspiring rap artist who was caught with a knife in an unexplained blood-stained bag walked free from court – and told the Echo he had learned his lesson.

Olusogo Ajewole, 21, of Clayburn Circle, Basildon, was given a three-month prison term, suspended for 18 months, at Basildon Crown Court.

After the hearing, he explained he was still mourning the loss of a close friend who had been stabbed to death, but he did not name the person.

Ajewole was arrested in New Road, Grays, on June 3 this year when police officers found a 5ins-long knife in a bag which also contained a cloth and white dressing gown covered in blood.

He initially refused to explain the findings to police, but later said he had agreed to carry it for someone he feared to prevent them being caught with it by police.

He pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of a bladed article in public at a hearing last month after admitting he knew the bag contained a knife.

Mark Larkin, prosecuting, told the court Ajewole had been reprimanded for carrying a knife at school in 2004, and also had convictions for robbery and aggravated vehicle taking.

But Cyrus Shroff, defending, said Ajewole had worked hard to gain good educational qualifications and was thought to have a promising career ahead of him in the music industry.

He said Ajewole regularly performed at local venues and had won talent competitions.

He said Ajewole and his friend Tomi Swift, 21, who make up rap duo Sugar n Swift, are to be interviewed on Kiss FM radio station and release a music video next year. Mr Shroff said: “He is trying to turn his life around. He has a bright future ahead of him and I don’t think the public interest will be best served by giving him a custodial sentence.”

Recorder Philip Brook-Smith told Ajewole: “It may be you know much more about the contents of that bag than you have said, but I cannot sentence you on speculation. That was not the Crown Prosecution’s case.

“I can only sentence you for being in possession of a knife in a public place.”

He handed down the sentence, instructed him to do 100 hours of unpaid community work, and ordered him to pay £1,200 prosecution costs.

After the hearing Ajewole told the Echo: "I would always say that carrying a knife is the wrong thing to do. You are likely to end up getting stabbed or going to jail.

"I'm glad to get this second chance so we can continue to spread the message of love with our music."