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Westerdale man's excuse for having locking knife rejected by Wick sheriff

By Court Reporter

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The defence put forward in court by a man who had a locking knife in public proved to be a bit 'ropey'.

Alexander Fraser's claim that he used the Stanley tool to cut lengths of rope to secure cars on his recovery vehicle cut no ice with Sheriff Andrew Berry.

He told Fraser at Wick Sheriff Court on Tuesday: "If a cruise liner had to cut its mooring rope every time it docked it would go through a lot of rope."

The sheriff rejected the 27-year-old's explanation for having the knife in his possession and found him guilty.

Fraser was stopped by police on the A9, near the Hilliclay junction, on January 19.

Sheriff Andrew Berry retired to consider his verdict.
Sheriff Andrew Berry retired to consider his verdict.

Police recovered the locking knife from his pocket and he was charged with possessing it in public without a reasonable excuse. He pleaded not guilty.

Giving evidence during his trial, Fraser, of Burnbraes, Hilliclay, Westerdale, said he regularly carried out repairs to vehicles. He had served part of an apprenticeship as a motor mechanic some years ago.

The accused told the court he was on his way to get money from an ATM in Thurso and intended to carry on to Dunbeath to complete a deal for the car he was buying, when he was stopped by the police. He said he explained to officers what the locking knife was used for.

Asked by his solicitor, Graeme Cunningham, whether the explanation was a cover-up for the knife's "real use" Fraser emphatically replied: "No".

Summing up, Mr Cunningham said that if the sheriff believed the accused's account "he must be acquitted".

Sheriff Berry said it had been conceded in evidence agreed by both the prosecution and the defence that Fraser had been in possession of the knife and added he was not convinced by the accused's claim.

The sheriff made the point that the relevant law on the issue existed to prevent the carrying of such weapons in public and the accused had been stopped in a public place.

Sheriff Berry made the point that Fraser had not presented any evidence to support his claims and told him: "In other words, your explanation is only your explanation."

The sheriff, who retired to consider his verdict, told the accused that he had checked the law on the matter and added: "I am drawn to the conclusion you are guilty."

Fraser's companion when he was stopped, Kieran Dickson (24), of Stroma Road, Thurso, pleaded guilty to possession of a locking knife.

Sheriff Berry called for background reports on the two accused and will consider them before passing sentence on the pair on November 17.

The knives were ordered to be forfeit.

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