A “DANGEROUS” stun gun was found stashed in the home of a drug user after he used a stolen bank card, a court heard.
When the weapon was discovered at Kenneth Chance’s home in Nelson Close, New Milton, he insisted to officers it was only a torch and had been left there by a friend, Southampton Crown Court heard.
Chance (37), also tried unsuccessfully to pass off cocaine discovered at the address as bicarbonate soda to police, prosecutor Brian Sharman said.
Officers searched the address in September last year when they arrested Chance over the use of a stolen bank card.
The card had been in a handbag taken from the kitchen of a New Milton home. Just two hours later it was used in the town by Chance – who was identified on store CCTV by officers – with £65 being spent in Tesco, McColls and Morrisons using the contactless system.
Chance appeared before the court with a “variety” of previous convictions on his criminal record, the prosecutor continued, including driving while over the drug limit.
He pleaded guilty to a total of seven charges: three of fraud, possessing a prohibited weapon and a class A drug, shoplifting and theft by finding.
Defence barrister Graham Gilbert said his client had experienced a “difficult childhood” and was a drug user, having first taken cannabis since the age of 10 to cope with his upbringing.
But he said his client was now motivated to address his drug use, especially as he wanted to continue caring for his teenage son, who is currently at college.
Mr Gilbert said Chance insisted he found the card on the ground while out and succumbed to the temptation of using it because at the time he was only getting £21 in weekly benefits to live off.
But as he gave the explanation the judge, Gary Burrell QC, said that claim by the defendant “stretched credibility”.
Mr Gilbert continued by pointing out his client had been in jail since late May. It had been a difficult experience for him and had exacerbated his mental health issues.
Sentencing Chance, Judge Burrell said: “What you were doing with a stun gun one can only speculate. I do not accept the explanation it had been left by a friend.
“Stun guns are dangerous weapons obviously and in my book people go to prison for that.”
But a number of factors – including that Chance had not used the gun and did not have a similar offence on his record – coupled with the defendant’s motivation to get drug free, persuaded the judge not to impose an immediate prison sentence.
He gave Chance a nine-month term suspended for two years. He also handed him a six-month drug rehabilitation requirement and an 18-week curfew from 7pm to 7am.
The judge said: “Your explanation about the gun and card are silly – I do not accept them for one minute. Do not think you have pulled the wool over my eyes.”
He also warned Chance that if he reoffended he would be sent to prison.