A STUDENT from Saltney has been locked up for carrying a knife at a Chester college.

Phil McMurray, 20, initially claimed he needed the weapon for protection at Cheshire College South & West on Eaton Road in Handbridge.

He also later told police that he carried the blade as he was an amateur You Tuber who made films about knives that he uploaded to the video-sharing website.

But at Chester Crown Court on Friday (August 23) defence solicitor Stephen Ferns said his client accepted that neither of these was true.

“He can’t explain it,” said Mr Ferns, to which Judge Simon Berkson replied: “It is of great concern to me that he doesn’t know why he carries it.”

McMurray – who was 19 at the time of the offence - was handed a 10-month sentence at a young offenders’ institute.

Prosecuting barrister Christopher Hopkins had told the court how a fellow student tipped off staff that McMurray carried a knife on college grounds.

A wellbeing support officer caught up with the defendant on Monday, February 11, this year and asked him if he carried a knife.

“The defendant took out a lock-knife from his left jeans pocket,” Mr Hopkins said. “He was suspended and escorted from the premises.”

He later voluntarily attended a police interview at Blacon police station.

“He said to the police that he had the knife for his own protection,” Mr Hopkins said. “He was then asked about the other student who reported him.

“He intimated that he was an amateur You Tuber and makes films in which he uses knives.”

The court heard he had also told a probation officer that he simply put on a pair of jeans that morning without realising his lock-knife was in the pocket.

Mr Ferns, defending, stressed his client was a man of previous good character who had pleaded guilty to the charge of possessing a blade on school premises.

An art and design student, McMurray hoped to do a Batchelor of Arts degree and had a “specific career in mind”.

“He’s extremely remorseful,” Mr Ferns added. “He has now changed his views completely in relation to knives.”

Sentencing, Judge Berkson told the defendant that the public needed to know that the courts treated knife crime incredibly seriously.

“These are matters that greatly trouble the court,” he said. “Knife crime is so very prevalent in towns and cities in this country, particularly among those in your age group.”

To the distress of McMurray’s family and friends in court, the judge said that only a sentence of immediate custody was appropriate.

The defendant, who lives at The Nook in Saltney, will spend half of the term behind bars and half on licence in the community.