Man found with five knives had 145 offences on record

Burnley Magistrates Court.
Burnley Magistrates Court.

A one-time prolific crook was found to have five knives on him when he was searched after a street altercation with a man, a court heard.

Ex-heroin addict Robert Austin (49) had been sitting on a low wall with his opponent when police arrived. A large kitchen knife was stabbed into the grass behind them.

Burnley magistrates were told how a blade was seen to have been brandished during the row – but not by Austin.

The defendant, who has 145 offences on his record, admitted possessing an article with a blade or sharp point – six kitchen knives – on Manchester Road, Burnley, on August 11th. Austin, of Hunslett Street, Burnley, received 16 weeks in custody, suspended for a year, with a three month curfew between 7pm and 6am, seven days a week and six months of supervision. The defendant, who is on employment and support allowance, was ordered to pay £85 costs, an £80 victim surcharge and a £180 criminal court charge.

Tracy Yates (prosecuting) told the court Austin and another man were seen arguing on Hargreaves Street, by staff at Burnley Jobcentre. Witnesses heard thuds and shouting and swearing. The pair walked off, still rowing and police found them at the junction of Manchester Road and Nelson Square, sitting on the wall, with the blade in the grass behind them.

Miss Yates said Austin was searched and five kitchen knives, of various sizes, were found in a bag he had on him. He was charged and replied : “I found them.” He made no comment when questioned.

Nick Cassidy (defending) said Austin had the knives in a small rucksack. He previously had a long-standing heroin addiction, supplemented his benefits by checking skips and scrapping.

“He found the items in a skip and placed them in his rucksack. These items were not brandished, they are not part of a public order offence, because he was released with no further action. He accepts it was a very foolish act and pleads guilty at the very first opportunity.”

The solicitor said Austin had not been before court since March last year, which was a “quite impressive feat,” with his long record. He had been to Inspire, the drugs treatment service, and was no longer a heroin user.