A BALLYMENA man who had been accused of possessing a telescopic baton as an offensive weapon in his car at Woodside Road near the town has been found not guilty and had the charge dismissed at court.
Neil McIlwee (46), of Tardree Grove, had been charged in relation to March 14 this year.
During a contested hearing at Antrim Magistrates Court, sitting in Ballymena, where the defence barrister was Michael Smyth, a prosecutor said police saw a Vauxhall Corsa car parked at Woodside Road at 9pm on March 14 and during a search a "telescopic flick baton" was found in a "compartment" at the driver's door.
The court heard Mr McIlwee told police the item had been in the car when he bought the vehicle in a private sale the previous December.
When shown the item by officers, he said he did not know it was "illegal" to possess a telescopic baton or else he would have gotten rid of it.
Giving evidence to the court, Mr McIlwee said when he bought the car he said he initially "didn't realise" what the item was because it was inside "casing".
He said he had not taken it out of a pouch "because it wasn't mine" and thought it was maybe a "tool or something".
Mr McIlwee said he did not think it was a "weapon" as he didn't think a weapon would be so "small".
He said he had not paid "much heed" to what it was as there was a "lot of stuff" in the door compartment including a small box of screwdrivers.
District Judge Nigel Broderick said he accepted Mr McIlwee had "given a credible account of him not knowing that this item in the sleeve was an offensive weapon, namely a telescopic baton"; found him not guilty and dismissed the charge.