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Man who had seven inch knife while under influence of alcohol to appeal prison sentence

The district judge said: 'Knife crime has rocketed and courts need to make an example of such offences'

A Craigavon man who was found asleep in a van with a knife on the passenger seat has been sentenced to two months in prison.

The district judge stated: “Any incident involving knives is very serious. Knife crime has rocketed and courts need to make an example of such offences.”

Joseph Woods, 36, of Garrymore, pleaded guilty to possession of a blade in a public place at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court on Friday.

It was heard that on April 18, at 3.45am, police on patrol of the Craigavon area noted a white van in the car park of Drumgor Presbyterian Church, Craigavon.

Officers approached the vehicle to find the defendant asleep in the driver’s seat.

After knocking the door to no reply police opened the vehicle and located a seven-inch knife on the passenger seat.

During interview, Woods accepted ownership of the weapon.

Defence barrister Conor Lunny stated: “He is due credit for his guilty plea. He had a limited record of 14 convictions with all but one being for road traffic offences.

“For quite some time he has had mental health and psychiatric issues. He instructs he has no problem with alcohol but often binges.”

District Judge Bernie Kelly said: “Any incident involving knives is very serious. Knife crime has rocketed and courts need to make an example of such offences.”

Mr Lunny commented: “Mr Woods can’t help but have seen the headlines, in places such as London.”

District Judge Kelly highlighted that there were a number of high profile knife offences involving young people in this jurisdiction.

She said: “He had the item in the passenger seat whilst he was under the influence of alcohol.”

Mr Lunny stated: “He has been trying to cope. He is a man who has been in and out of Bluestone, he has ongoing issues.

“He has not consented to community service due to undiagnosed agoraphobia which would prevent him doing so.”

District Judge Kelly said: “Mr Woods, for a fairly lengthy period this court and others took a benign view of possession of a weapon, as there was no one injured.

“This has not discouraged the use or possession of weapons, given the level of knife crime, put simply you won’t stab someone if you don’t have the knife in the first place.”

Woods was sentenced to two months in prison for the offence.

Mr Lunny made it known to the court that the defendant wished to appeal the sentence.

Woods was released on his own bail of £250 pending this.

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