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Solicitor saves 'historic' blade in court case

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: March 11, 2014

A "PIECE of Cornish history" has potentially been saved for posterity after magistrates agreed with a solicitor's request that it should not be destroyed.

The historic item, described by solicitor Steve Cox as having a "shrimp-shaped" blade, is believed to be a 600-year-old gutting tool used by fishermen around the coast of Cornwall.

It had been found in the pocket of a man arrested in Newquay in December, Bodmin court was told.

The man, Christopher Rouse, 33, of no fixed abode, was handed a suspended prison sentence by magistrates when he appeared before them in custody on Monday after pleading guilty to possession of the bladed article on December 19, as well as failing to attend court on February 12.

He had pleaded guilty previously to being drunk and disorderly on December 19 and two offences of shoplifting committed on January 6 at different stores in Newquay.

Scott Horner, for the prosecution, said that on December 19 police spoke to Rouse in Station Approach, Newquay.

His speech was slurred and he was unsteady on his feet but he refused to leave the area, swearing at the officers. After being arrested, the blade was found in his jeans pocket at the police station.

He later accepted being drunk, saying he had drunk ten pints of beer.

Of the blade, he said he had found it, renovated it and then forgotten it was in his pocket. He believed it was of historical interest and this had later been confirmed by a museum.

The shoplifting offences involved £41.23 of goods taken from Sainsbury's by Rouse and around £10 of lager stolen from Londis.

The court was told that Rouse had 21 previous convictions, including for theft. He had also received an 11-month prison sentence last year at Truro Crown Court for assault causing actual bodily harm.

Mr Cox, for the defence, explained the provenance of the blade to the court, saying there had been some dispute over whether it was a knife or a tool and that was why Rouse had originally pleaded not guilty. It was, said Mr Cox, completely blunt in any event.

Rouse was very sorry for being drunk and disorderly and had stolen the food and drink to consume during a four-week period without benefits following the loss of his job.

Mr Cox said that Rouse planned to move to Norway imminently to be with his wife.

Rouse, described by bench chairman Peter Hosegood as a "persistent offender" who had had the blade on him while drunk, was handed a 70-day prison sentence, suspended for a year and ordered to pay £41.23 compensation, £170 costs and an £80 victim surcharge.

At the conclusion of the hearing Mr Cox asked the magistrates not to make an order for the forfeiture and destruction of the knife, as is usual in such cases, because of its history.

Mr Hosegood agreed, saying the knife should remain with the police with a request that it be offered to a museum.

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