A TEENAGER caught carrying a six-inch lock knife in his sock told police he was carrying the blade “for my protection”.
Robert Ramsay was arrested after worried passers-by saw him arguing with a group of teenagers on a footpath in Livingston holding the knife by his side.
Police officers were given a description of the 19-year-old and traced him to an address nearby where they recovered a “rigid” red lock knife.
Ramsay told officers: “I had this knife on me. I hid it in my sock for my own protection.”
But Ramsay, of Armadale, West Lothian, avoided jail over the offence yesterday after appearing for sentencing at Livingston Sheriff Court. The unemployed teenager pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to having an offensive weapon in a public place in December last year.
The court was told he had been put on probation for the offence and ordered to do unpaid work as punishment.
But he breached his probation order in February by failing to appear for a court hearing and breached bail by failing to sign on at a police station a month later.
Sheriff Martin Edington blasted Ramsay’s lack of co-operation and unwillingness to accept responsibility for his actions.
He said: “You abuse alcohol and drugs and can’t see the problems that causes for you and others. You’re immature and reckless and you breached probation by poor attendance and lack of compliance.
“You’ve done only 5.15 hours of your unpaid work and there are severe doubts about your ability to complete a restriction of liberty order. That doesn’t leave a lot of sentencing options, particularly for an offence as serious as carrying a knife.
“It leaves me thinking that you must lose your liberty. However, I’m going to give you one last chance to show that you can work with people like [counselling service] Open Door and that you can gain some maturity, stop offending and become someone who can perform a useful function rather than clogging up the criminal courts with your offending behaviour.”
The sheriff revoked the previous probation order and put Ramsay on probation for a further 18 months. He also ordered the teenager to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work in the community as punishment for the knife offence.
Fiona Caldwell, prosecuting, had told the court that witnesses said Ramsay was not presenting the weapon at other members of the group, but she added: “They were clearly concerned by what they had seen and immediately made their way back to their home address to avoid trouble.”
Tracy Quinn, defending, said the accused had given in to pressure to “go along with the crowd”.
She added: “He has no excuses for this. He accepts he’s been very foolish.”
“He tells me that he’d been part of a larger peer group, not the best influence at that time in 2010. He felt under some pressure to go along with the crowd.
“He struggles to manage himself and relies heavily on the assistance of others. That goes some way to explain – certainly not excuse – his failure to appear and to adhere to his bail condition.
“He tells me he’s now dissociated himself from the peer group and is keeping himself to himself.”