A MAN caught with an outlawed 'punching knife' following a fight in a Greenock street has denied ownership of the Class 1 offensive weapon.

Gary Knox told police who arrested him that he had the blade for self protection, but he insisted in court he'd only picked it up from the ground after the altercation.

He says that the short dagger — which has a 'T' handle to be grasped so the blade protrudes from the fist — fell from the pocket of a man he was grappling with.

But Knox, 30, has now been ordered to give evidence under oath as to the precise circumstances of how he came by the weapon — which is banned in Britain.

Greenock Sheriff Court heard how a member of the public alerted passing patrol officers to a man holding a dagger 'between his fingers' on South Street.

Procurator fiscal Ziad Ul Hassan said: "It was around 3.15pm and the area was busy with vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

"Police saw the accused and instructed him to stay still.

"He had a small black punching knife and he immediately threw in to the ground.

"He told officers that he was involved in an altercation and he had it for his protection."

Knox, who lives on South Street, was caught with the weapon — also known as a push dagger — on the afternoon of February 22.

Defence lawyer Edward Sweeney told the court that his client's position is that the item he picked it up after the confrontation and ran away as the other man chased him with a bottle.

Mr Sweeney said: "I'm told he discarded the item in a lane and left, then returned a short time afterwards to pick up the item.

"After he did so the member of the public saw him in possession of the weapon."

Mr Sweeney added: "The position is that the item is a Class 1 offensive weapon.

"It is Mr Knox's position that this was not his item, this weapon did not belong to him and he had fleeting possession of it."

Sheriff Andrew McIntyre set a proof in mitigation hearing for July 15 for Knox, a first offender, to give evidence prior to being sentenced.