Soldier waved Samurai sword

A SOLDIER who went absent without leave (AWOL) from his base sparked panic after he was seen in a street waving a Samurai sword.

Danial O’Donnell said he got hold of the ornamental weapon and went out into Thorpe Street, in Easington Colliery, after a group came to the door and threatened him and his girlfriend.

Police had been called to the street after calls from residents reporting a disturbance.

Durham Crown Court heard an officer approached a group of young people after neighbours singled out O’Donnell for holding the sword.

The 19-year-old admitted it had been him and said he had put the weapon on a garage roof nearby and retrieved it upon request.

Stuart Graham, prosecuting, said: “Mr O’Donnell told him he did it, saying ‘what do you expect me to do when they come to the door and threaten me and my girlfriend?”

He admitted possessing an offensive weapon, though the court heard he was not the owner of the sword.

Ian Hudson, mitigating, said O’Donnell, a member of the Battalion of the Scots Guards since December 2008 and based at Catterick, was due to face separate disciplinary action within the Army.

Mr Hudson said: “He was having dinner with friends in Easington and then strangers, for whatever reason, have come to the door and threatened his girlfriend.

“Unfortunately, and he accepts it’s an aggravating feature, he’s gone out in drink and he picked up the ornamental sword, which he doesn’t own.”

Recorder Darren Preston said he took into account the fact the aggressors came to him, rather than O’Donnell being the start of the trouble and considered it a “blip in his record”.

O’Donnell, of Hazel Crescent, Easington Colliery, was jailed for eight months, suspended for two years, told to carry out 200 hours’ community work and pay £340 costs.