Hartlepool man fined after border officials intercept 'joke' torch that was illegal weapon

A man who bought a combined torch and electric stun weapon as a gag found the joke was on him when it landed him in court.

Tuesday, 19th October 2021, 1:27 pm
Updated Tuesday, 19th October 2021, 2:36 pm

Shaun Armstrong, 38, was arrested after border officials intercepted the illegal device at an airport.

He bought the electric stun device which also looked like a torch from the mobile shopping app Wish.

Armstrong pleaded guilty to purchasing a prohibited weapon and was fined when he appeared at Teesside Crown Court on Tuesday, October 19.

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The torch and stun device that was intercepted by Border Agency officials.

Uzma Khan, prosecuting, said: “On June 8 last year the Border Agency intercepted a parcel at Coventry Airport addressed to this defendant.

"Having opened that item they were able to confirm that it was in fact an electric stun device that was disguised as a flashlight torch.”

The court heard he bought it as a joke novelty item believing it delivered a short shock when the user pressed the button to activate the torch.

Ms Khan said: “He stated he got the idea having seen a friend use it and paid just a few pounds for the item plus delivery charge.”

The case was dealt with at Teesside Crown Court.

Judge Chris Smith described it as a “nasty piece of equipment”, adding: “It’s prohibited for good reason.”

He added: “The court sees a lot of purchases of prohibited weapons through Wish.

"I understand it’s not really the first thought as to whether or not this is breaching regulations when somebody clicks buy now, it seems an easy thing to do.

"But online these things are often advertised with videos which show or hint at what they’re capable of.”

Alex Bousfield, defending, said Armstrong, a construction supervisor who works overseas, had been naive and had cooperated fully with the authorities.

The prosecution said its intended use was reckless but that no harm or distress had actually been caused.

Armstrong, of Thornbury Close, Hartlepool was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £320 prosecution costs and a victim surcharge.

Judge Smith told him: “A man of your age ought to know better than going round buying silly things like this.

“It might not have cost you very much on the Wish website but it’s going to cost you today.

"I’m confident you have learned your lesson. Be careful what you wish for.”

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