AN OFFENSIVE weapon offender who told police he was carrying a knuckleduster on a Greenock street for protection after a relative was shot has been ordered to complete nearly 200 hours of unpaid work.

Thomas Munro - a first offender - was found to have the knuckleduster in a trouser pocket after officers stopped and searched him on Earnhill Road in the early hours.

Munro, 24, stated that he had the weapon for self-defence and told the police: “My uncle was shot and people have been coming through my house.”

Munro pleaded guilty to possessing the weapon without reasonable excuse or lawful authority prior to being given a non-custodial sentence at the sheriff court.

The offence was committed weeks after the fatal shooting of Neil Canney in Larkfield.

A previous court hearing was told that Munro was seen walking on a public footpath by plain-clothed officers on patrol in an unmarked vehicle at around 1.15am on March 18 last year.

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A fiscal depute told the court: “Due to a rise in violent incidents in days prior, police approached the accused to ensure all was in order.

“Police identified themselves both verbally and by presenting warrant cards.

“Upon doing so, the accused immediately placed his right hand into his right trouser pocket.

“As a result of this, police alighted the police vehicle and approached the accused.

“Police removed a black knuckleduster from the accused’s pocket.”

The sentencing hearing was told that Munro had complied with a ‘very full’ social work report which ‘detailed the background’ to the case.

His solicitor Ellen Macdonald said: “Stupidly - and I think with genuine fright - he took the item and it was found in his pocket.

“He knows that having the item was stupid. He accepts that fully.”

Sheriff Anthony McGeehan told Munro: “Your behaviour and decision-making were stupid and it was also dangerous to others but also to yourself.

“As a result of your decision-making in how to deal with a wider set of circumstances you were facing, you now appear before the court with a criminal conviction.”

As a direct alternative to a custodial sentence, Munro must complete 180 hours of unpaid work within 12 months, reduced from 200 hours following his guilty plea before a trial.