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Judge tells man who ‘always carried a knife on a necklace’ that the public are very worried about blade crime

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A judge told a man who said he always carried a knife attached to a necklace that public concern about death and injury in stabbings is particularly high at present. Mark Laurence Woods (44), of Parklea in Portstewart, was also in possession of other knives and weapons including a machete on various dates.

At Coleraine Magistrates Court on Friday, where the defendant pleaded guilty to a range of offences, Deputy District Judge Sean O’Hare said Woods should be aware of the “current concerns that the public have about knives in circulation”.

The court heard police stopped Woods riding a bicycle in Portstewart at 1am last April and they found a lock knife attached to a chain around his neck.

The knife had a two and a half inch blade and the defendant told police he always carried it.

Last July at New Row in Coleraine police found Woods with a ‘selection of knives and blades’ and he also had drugs including ‘speed’. Drugs offences were also detected at Portstewart in January this year.

Meanwhile, in August last year the defendant was stopped at a police vehicle checkpoint and he had a knife.

Last September at the Riverside Retail Park in Coleraine police caught Woods with a ‘machete type knife’ with a nine and a half inch blade in the boot of a car and there were other items in the vehicle including a baton, three ‘Stanley type blades’, a hammer and a hatchet.

In November Woods stole a £200 mobile phone which belonged to a member of the public at the Enquiry Office at Coleraine Police Station.

The judge said it was “particularly insane” to commit a crime in a police station.

The incident was caught on CCTV.

A defence solicitor said the defendant’s father who had been a stabilising influence with Woods passed away in 2018 and afterwards he had a “somewhat chaotic lifestyle” and his

life had “spiraled out of control” because of substance abuse. The solicitor said the defendant often had blades in his possession because of his “engagement in scrap metal”.

The lawyer said there was no suggestion that any of the blades or knives had ever been used although the defendant accepts he should not have had them. Judge O’Hare said they were serious offences.

He said when the first offence was detected Woods should have stopped carrying knives. The judge said the public are concerned about people carrying knives.

The court heard Woods had been in custody on remand since early January this year.

The judge said as well as that he was giving the defendant an eight months prison sentence suspended for two years. Woods, who had an insurance offence detected, was also banned from driving for six months and fined £350.

Judge O’Hare made a destruction order for all the weapons and drugs.

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