A homeless Leamington man has been caught for the sixth time carrying a knife, which he said he had for his own protection while sleeping rough.
Sean McGregor (29) of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to possessing an offensive weapon and possessing a bladed article in a public place.
A judge at Warwick Crown Court sentenced him to 14 months in jail.
Prosecutor Marcus Harry said that at shortly after 7pm on September 22 police officers went to McGregor’s brother’s home in Lillington on an unrelated matter.
While they were inside McGregor knocked on the door, and because of the way he was behaving they searched him and found a knuckleduster in his pocket.
When he was interviewed he said he had bought it shortly before from an acquaintance, and he was bailed.
But he failed to turn up for a magistrates’ court hearing in October, and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
So when he was spotted on a CCTV camera in Leamington town centre on November 2, officers were alerted and arrested him in the Parade.
He was asked if he had anything on him, and he said he had a knife which he produced and placed on the ground in front of him.
It was a small kitchen knife with a 2.5-inch blade, which McGregor explained he carried for protection because he had no fixed address and was sleeping rough.
Mr Harry pointed out that McGregor had eight previous convictions for 14 offences, including five of possessing bladed articles in 2013, 2019 and 2019.
Queenie Djan, defending, conceded: “The peak of his mitigation is his credit for his early guilty plea, and that he co-operated with the police from the outset.”
She explained: “The main reason he carries knives is for self-defence, perhaps because he’s been homeless for some time.”
Miss Djan said McGregor had been addicted to heroin and crack cocaine since the age of 16, but had been co-operating with the addiction service Change Grow Live, and had been due to move into a hostel.
Sentencing McGregor, Recorder Ben Mills told him: “I have to deal with you for two offences of having an offensive weapon in a public place.
“These offences have guidelines which apply to them, and in your case there is a minimum of six months.
“Knives can easily lead to serious injury or death to anyone who is confronted with them.
“The fact that you were homeless is in many ways tragic, and I can understand the fear you have been feeling on the streets at night – but that is no reason to arm yourself with what can be a deadly weapon.”