A CONVICTED robber who tried to conceal a knife after it had triggered a metal detector at Warwickshire Justice Centre in Leamington has escaped being jailed.
Stuart Cooke pleaded guilty to possessing an offensive weapon and committing a further offence while he was subject to a suspended sentence.
Warwick Crown Court heard that sentence was imposed in April last year after the 43-year-old, of March Way, Ernesford Grange, Coventry, had pleaded guilty to a charge of robbery.
Judge Andrew Lockhart QC observed it had been a street robbery involving the mugging of a woman, snatching £20 from her after she had withdrawn money from an ATM machine.
For the robbery Cooke was given a 12-month prison term suspended for 18 months, with a rehabilitation activity and a drug rehabilitation order under which he was required to attend the crown court on a regular basis for a judge to review his progress.
But when he turned up for a review, to be heard by Judge Lockhart, on February 9, he triggered the metal detector at the Justice Centre security desk.
Cooke, who had already been asked to remove any metal objects before going through the metal detector arch, was asked to empty his pockets for a further check.
He did so, but attempted to conceal something in his hand which, when he eventually handed it over, turned out to be a folded pocket knife.
Prosecutor Lee Sargent said the police were contacted by the security staff, and when he was questioned Cooke said he had not realised it was in his pocket.
Judge Lockhart pointed out because it was an offence in breach of a suspended sentence, he would have to activate all or part of the sentence – unless it would be unjust.
Urging him not to do so, Christopher Gibbons, defending, said Cooke had been making good progress under the order.
Of the knife, he explained Cooke had been to see his ex-wife, who lives in the Black Country, where he had used it to mend her clothes line, and he had then forgotten it was in his pocket.
He said Cooke was ‘an intelligent man’ who had a BSc in mechanical engineering from Warwick University, but had gone downhill because of heroin and cocaine, which was what had led to the robbery.
And he added that Cooke, who weighs 22 stone and suffers from type two diabetes, is the carer for his 62-year-old mother who was in poor health.
Cooke was given a 12-month community order with a rehabilitation activity for 25 days for the offensive weapon, and a further 25 days’ rehabilitation activity for the breach of the suspended sentence, and ordered to pay £25 costs.
Judge Lockhart told him: “This matter, while it is serious, was brought by you into a public place, but it was closed and you did not have any intention to use it and had had it for a legitimate purpose.”