Pevensey man found not guilty of possessing offensive weapons

Hastings Magistrates Court

A Pevensey man has been banned from driving but found not guilty of possessing offensive weapons after police found an axe, ‘machete-like’ knife and baseball bat in the van he was driving.

Nicholas Rutledge, of Hailsham Road, was charged with possessing two offensive weapons and two knives and driving while disqualified after the red Mercedes van was stopped by police on Golden Jubilee Way, Hastings Court heard yesterday.

But magistrates found there was no evidence he had the intention to harm people or that he had even placed the items in the vehicle to being with.

The court heard the van was pulled over by police at the junction of Bannatyne gym at around 11.30pm on October 25.

Mr Rutledge, 34, explained he had jumped in the van and driven off with three others in search of a friend’s daughter who had gone missing.

He said to the court, “There were lots of tools in the back of the van. A chainsaw, chimney sweeping stuff, gardening stuff even builders’ tools. I didn’t know they were in there. I was more concerned with going to find her.”

The father, who lives in a chalet on land with a number of people in caravans, explained the machete-like knife was actually a billhook, used for making kindling and fencing. The axe, he said, would be used to chop firewood, and the baseball bat to play games in the five acres of land they live on.

And the owner of the van, Shannon Simms, a gardener, said, “It’s used for taking rubbish for the tip, and moving things from one place to another. It’s a shed on wheels.

“There was hand axes, chainsaws, hard hats, buckets. Anything laying about was picked up and put into the van, there’s little ones and teenagers about.”

Mr Rutledge, who pleaded guilty to driving while disqualified, was banned from driving for six months and was fined £120 with a victim surcharge of £30 and costs of £85.

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