Belfast Telegraph

Man wearing knuckle duster inside hotel ahead of Ballycastle Auld Lammas Fair 'won it in an arm-wrestling competition'

By Nevin Farrell

A man wearing a knuckle duster inside a Ballycastle hotel on the weekend leading up to the world famous Auld Lammas Fair claimed he won it in an arm-wrestling competition with Travellers.

Christopher Martin Laverty (33), of Shelton Road, Loughgiel, previously admitted a charge of possessing an offensive weapon in a public place.

At Coleraine Magistrates' Court on Monday he was given four months in jail, suspended for three years.

A prosecutor said police received a report at 11.20pm on Saturday, August 27 of Laverty walking around inside the Marine Hotel in Ballycastle wearing the knuckle duster.

When police arrived he attempted to conceal the weapon and told officers he had previously "got a beating" and was carrying it for his own protection.

Later during a police interview he told officers he "won it from a Traveller during an arm-wrestling match at the back of the Marine Hotel".

Defence solicitor Derwin Harvey said the defendant is involved in breeding horses and had gathered with other like-minded individuals before the Lammas Fair.

Mr Harvey said Laverty won the knuckle duster during the test of strength arm-wrestling competition and was "showing off" afterwards and laughing and that there was "nothing more sinister than that".

The solicitor said knuckle dusters were on sale at the fair and can be purchased in shops across Northern Ireland but it is when you put them on that it becomes an offence.

The lawyer said others were wearing knuckle dusters around their necks and from belts on the night of Laverty's offence but it soon became apparent to his client he should not have taken possession of the item.

District Judge Liam McNally told Laverty, who had a record: "This was a serious offence. If you had been involved in a fight you could have caused a very serious injury to anyone you struck".

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