Sword wielding nightclubber sentenced

A CLUBBER has avoided a jail sentence despite being caught wielding a sword in a town centre.

Josh Warwick

A CLUBBER has avoided a jail sentence despite being caught wielding a sword in a town centre.

Jake Lethbridge, from Frinton-on-Sea, was handed a suspended sentence and ordered to carry out community service after admitting a charge of possessing an offensive weapon.

South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court heard how the unemployed 22-year-old had drunk spirits and beer with friends on March 5 after coming to Ipswich to enjoy a night out.

The group headed to Liquid nightclub in Cardinal Park, where Lethbridge became involved in a brawl.

He left the club and was later spotted by a member of the public in Princes Street at around 2.15am on March 6 walking towards Liquid, clutching a sword and, according to prosecutor Sandra Dyer, “waving it in an uncoordinated manner”.

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After he was spotted and arrested by officers patrolling the area, Lethbridge told police the weapon had been handed to him by a friend and claimed he was so intoxicated he could remember little of the incident.

He pleaded guilty to a charge of possessing an offensive weapon when he first appeared in court last month.

However, despite the Home Office's adoption of a tougher approach in dealing with knife crime following a series of high profile stabbings, Lethbridge was not jailed.

Magistrates claimed he had not been sent to prison because his case had “unusual circumstances”.

Chair of the bench Bernard Hines said: “Usually, you would not only attract a custodial sentence but would be sent to crown court as well.

“But you were suffering the effects of alcohol and a so-called friend went to get the sword and handed it to you.

“The bench would suggest it is not the action of a friend to give someone suffering the effects of alcohol a lethal weapon in a public place.”

Lethbridge, of Wittonwood Road, has one previous conviction for assaulting a police officer.

His lawyer, Tariq Khawam, told the court the incident had been totally out of character.

“He is not normally a violent person,” he said.

“A very drunken man with a sword is potentially dangerous but it was not in the vicinity of where the assault (the nightclub brawl) had taken place.

“He can't really explain why he took hold of this item when it was handed to him.”

Lethbridge was given a 20-week sentence suspended for six months, told to carry out 200 hours' unpaid work, ordered to attend an alcohol treatment requirement for six months and told to pay �65 costs.

A MOTHER whose son was stabbed to death today told of her surprise at Jake Lethbridge's sentence.

Ann Oakes-Odger's son Westley was murdered at a cashpoint in Colchester in 2005.

She has campaigned on the issue of knives since his death.

She said: “It's certainly a serious thing - it's not like having a small blade in your pocket.

“I'm keen for young people not to get criminalised but I think he should have a proper talk on the consequences to families.

“This could so easily have been a more serious incident.

“He only had to get into an altercation and this could have been a whole different story.

“While the court has taken a lenient view, I feel he should have been referred to a proper weapons awareness workshop.”

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