Man caught flying home with pepper spray in toilet bag

Jack Wilcox. Picture: Stewart Robertson
Jack Wilcox. Picture: Stewart Robertson
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A MAN from the Capital who claimed illegal firearms he brought to Scotland were souvenirs from a trip to Europe has been spared jail.

Jack Wilcox, of Hawkhill Close, Edinburgh, was caught with the “American-style NATO” pepper sprays when he touched down at Glasgow Airport on July 7 last year, following a holiday in Bulgaria.

Paisley Sheriff Court heard Wilcox told Border Force officers that he did not realise the pepper sprays were firearms and had brought them back as souvenirs.

The sprays were able to discharge capsaicin – an active component of chili peppers, which burns any tissue it comes into contact with – and pepper.

Wilcox, 24, had earlier pleaded guilty to breaking Section 170(2)(b) of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979.

Sentence was deferred so he could be assessed by social workers and he returned to the dock yesterday.

Procurator fiscal depute Hazel Emmerson told the court that Wilcox was caught with the banned items despite being given several chances to inform officials he was in possession of them.

She said a Border Force officer was on duty at the airport, conducting a covert x-ray examination of baggage from passengers.

Emmerson said: “They were asked if their bags contained any offensive weapons. They were then taken to a large, brightly coloured ‘offensive weapons’ poster, which measured 4ft by 3ft, located in the middle of the baggage reclaim belt.”

Wilcox neglected to mention he had the pepper sprays in his luggage.

His bag was then searched and, when the pepper sprays were found in a small inside pocket in his toiletry bag, he said he knew it was illegal to import firearms.

Defence solicitor Nadine Dormer said the items “were freely available” in Bulgaria and Wilcox had “a lack of understanding of the legislation”.

After hearing that Wilcox worked, was a first offender and had spent some time in custody over the offence after being arrested at the airport, Sheriff Tom McCartney spared him jail. He ordered Wilcox to pay a fine of £640, reduced from £800 as he admitted his guilt at a pre-trial hearing.