A YOUNG man who planned to make a campfire with a friend at the top of Helsby Hill was stopped by police and found to have a lock-knife.

Tommy Kaye, 21, of Halton Lodge Avenue, Runcorn, pleaded guilty to having a bladed article when he appeared at Chester Magistrates Court on Friday, May 17.

But Chris Hunt, defending, said Kaye should not be subject to the strict guidelines as imposed by the Government last year, where anyone convicted of having a bladed article in a public place without good reason could face six months in prison.

While Mr Hunt acknowledged there was an increase in knife crime elsewhere in the country which had led to tougher punishments for knife possession, Kaye's case was a very different situation.

Prosecuting, Natalie Cassidy said it was on April 24 when police had received a report of people interfering with car aerials in Eddisbury Square, Frodsham.

Two young men were stopped, including Kaye, and a lock-knife was found in his bag.

During police interview, Kaye said his late grandfather had given him the lock-knife and he did not realise it was illegal to carry it.

Mr Hunt, defending, said: "There was an MP on television saying people with knives should be jailed for 10 years.

"The problem is cases like this, with that approach.

"This is exactly the sort of case which used to be dealt with by a sort of caution. This man has autism, never been in any trouble in his life.

"The thing about the car aerials is a complete red herring. He was with a friend, only there going to Helsby Hill to make a campfire.

"He has a small lock-knife to whittle off sticks. If it was a folding knife he had, it would be legal.

"He was perfectly co-operative and had to spend the night in custody which was very scary and unpleasant for him – he spent 16 hours in total.

"There are no aggravating features, and all mitigating factors. It's a cliché, but they are [sentencing] guidelines, not tramlines. You can distinguish this case from those the guidelines were designed for. He is losing his good character with this."

Magistrates handed Kaye, who was accompanied by his father, an eight-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months.

He must pay a victim surcharge of £115 and the knife was to be forfeited.