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Belfast pensioner claimed knife was for 'civic duty' of cutting Lagan weeds

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Laganside Magistrates’ Court

Laganside Magistrates’ Court

PA Archive/PA Images

Laganside Magistrates’ Court

A pensioner has been given a suspended jail term for having a knife he claimed was for cutting weeds as part of his "civic duty".

Patrick Marks was also dealt with for aggression to a woman after falling into the River Lagan in Belfast while trying to retrieve an abandoned bicycle.

The 66-year-old, with an address at fold accommodation on Cooke Street in the city, was convicted of common assault and possessing a bladed article.

Belfast Magistrates' Court heard a member of staff contacted police on New Year's Eve last year, claiming she had been extremely frightened by Marks' behaviour.

It was alleged that he became verbally abusive and raised his fists, leaving her fearing he was going to punch her.

When Marks was arrested and searched a lock knife was found in his belongings.

He claimed the knife was for the lawful objective of clearing metal and weeds from the river, the court was told.

Setting out the facts of the case on Wednesday, District Judge Fiona Bagnall said: "He said he had been cleaning up the Lagan and cutting weeds, which he does regularly and voluntarily has part of what he described as his civic duty.

"He fell into the river trying to retrieve an abandoned bike and returned home to get cleaned up (in a shared toilet facility)."

Marks later found out the injured party had reported him for making a mess.

A verbal altercation ensued, leading to the technical charge of common assault for putting the woman in fear.

Imposing a total sentence of four months imprisonment for the two offences, Mrs Bagnall suspended the term for a year.

She also ordered destruction of the lock knife.

Belfast Telegraph