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Thugs caught with blades routinely avoid prison despite UK knife crime epidemic as bloodshed continu

HAUL: Knives taken by Avon and Somerset Police during Operation Sceptre (Police image)

A WOMAN who attacked a police officer, while in possession of a hammer, screwdriver and Stanley Knife blades, is one of a string of people found in possession of dangerous weapons who have avoided jail.

Courts are routinely allowing people found in possession of knives off with suspended sentences despite guidelines saying the offence should carry a three month minimum prison term.

Our findings come in the wake of the knife crime epidemic which is sweeping the country with more stabbings and blood she in the past week when every police force across the country took part in Operation Sceptre with increased stop and search, sweeps of parks and town centres for weapons and a knife amnesty.

Our investigation found several cases where people were let off with a slap on the wrist, despite some being convicted of other offences at the same time.

Brenda Gubb, 40, from Heygate Avenue, Southend, Essex, assaulted Essex Police special constable George Conneeley, in Swanage Road, in the town, last month and was charged with the new offence of assaulting an emergency worker.

She was being arrested for sending sending threatening text messages to another woman over several of days.

Gubb, who lives on benefits, admitted the offence at Southend Magistrate's Court this month, when she also pleaded guilty two two counts of possessing offensive weapons, including a hammer, screwdriver, three blades and a letter opener without lawful excuse and one count of harassment.

Magistrates sentenced her to a total of 18 weeks in prison for the three offences, but then suspended it for 12 months.

Instead she will carry out just 50 hours of community service over the next 12 months and has to pay £50 compensation to both victims out of her benefits payments.

They also hit her with a restraining order not to contact the woman for 12 months.

Two other young women caught with knives, including, a "huge machete" have avoided jail despite magistrates branding the offences serious enough for prison.

Leliott Kapesa, 22, from Camden, north London, was found in Fitzrovia, north London with the machete and a bag of cocaine on January 17.

She admitted both offences at Westminster Magistrates Court last month.

Magistrates said she should face prison because it was "an enormous knife" but then suspended her four month sentence for a year provided she carries out 150 hours of community service.

The same court also let Mariam Facouri, 19, from Hammersmith, west London, avoid prison last month.

She was caught with a kitchen knife in Hammersmith Broadway on Valentine's Day and magistrates said it was so serious she should serve four months in prison.

However, they then suspended the sentence provided she does 120 hours community service over the next 12 months, saying she was "young, vulnerable and of previously good character."

Sentencing Council current guidelines say magistrates should give a three-month minimum prison sentence for possession of a knife, even for a first offence.

SEARCH: Met Police officers look for knives hidden by gangs in Lewisham

Yet, in 2018 there were 21,484 sentences handed out in England and Wales for possession of a knife or other offensive weapon, but more than 60 per cent of them avoided prison.

Around 63 per cent of cases concerned a knife or blade and about one in five involved a defendant aged under 18.

The Government said anyone caught a second time with a knife should automatically go to jail, but the latest figures showed around one in five repeat offenders avoided prison.

The soft justice has led to calls for tougher sentencing and prison for offenders.

Dave McKelvey, a former Met Police detective, said: “The sentencing guidelines for knife crimes are very clear and that means an immediate custodial sentence for anyone possessing a knife.

"Despite that the judiciary do not appear to be consistent in their sentencing.

"An even more worrying issue is the number of cautions that are still being given for possessing knives by the police.

"Until there is a real deterrent we will not see a decrease in knife crime and the serious assaults and murders that follow.

“The police have lost control of the streets to the gangs. In order to have any real impact the police must take back our streets. In order to do that they must have support from the

KILLED: Nathaniel Armstrong was stabbed to death in Fulham in the early hours of Saturday

Government and senior officers to undertake robust enforcement using stop and search and arresting those engaged in any form of criminality.”

Lasha Ushveridze, 28, from West Kensington, west London, was found with a folding knife in Fulham, south west London on November 19.

Despite being found guilty after denying the offence he escaped with just a £750 fine at City of London Magistrates Court last month.

Cayne Jordon-Collins, 18, from Hornsey, north London, was found with a 6-inch kitchen knife in Shepherd's Bush, west London, on November 22.

He pleaded guilty and was jailed for 13 weeks last month at Westminster Magistrates Court, but it was suspended for 12 months provided he undergo rehabilitation and is electronically monitored for six weeks.

On January 5 Joshua Kiamil, 19, from Hitchin in Hertfordshire, was found in possession of cannabis and a lock knife in South Kensington.

He admitted possessing cannabis, but denied, later being found guilty, of having the knife with no lawful excuse.

At Hendon Magistrate's Court last month he avoided prison with a community work order of 150 hours over 12 months.

AMNESTY: All police forces across England and Wales took part in Operation Sceptre

Top criminal lawyer Nick Freeman said: "A suspended sentence is basically a let off provided they don't breach its requirements.

"We need enough police on the streets, I would like to see targeted stop and search, and schools having the power to search will pupils with it mandatory to report to the police any pupil found with a knife.

"We also need punishments that speak for them selves, such as an immediate custodial sentence of six months for anyone caught with a knife, even on the first offence without any aggravating factors."

A 14-year-old boy caught with a six-inch hunting knife who failed to turn up in court twice after being charged with possession of an offensive weapon has to undergo just four days of weapons awareness as punishment.

The teen, from Clacton, Essex, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was caught with the blade in his home town on December 19.

He was charged but failed to turn up at Chelmsford Magistrate's Court in January and then in March.

He was arrested and brought back to court last week.

He admitted the offences and magistrates imposed the supervision order.

Separately, Liam Dee, 18, admitted carrying a knife for "self-protection" while high on cannabis, but will face just 80 hours of community service.

Dee, from Braintree, Essex, was caught with a lock knife and cannabis in his street in the small Essex town.

Colchester Magistrate's Court heard he should face prison as the offence was "so serious" because he "held the knife for his own protection while under the influence of drugs.

However, they suspended his three week sentence for 12 months provided he carries out the community work.

Victoria Myers, head of abuse claims at Graham Coffey Solicitors in Manchester was the victim of an attempted carjacking last year involving hammers and an axe.

She said: "Tough sentences need to be handed out as a deterrent.

"The maximum penalty for an adult carrying a knife is four years in prison and an unlimited fine, maybe this should become the minimum level of punishment. It appears that current sentencing guidelines are not being followed."

A Sentencing Council spokeswoman said: "The sentencing guidelines reflect the statutory maximum and, in the case of knife crimes, minimum sentences set by Parliament.

"Judges and magistrates must follow the sentencing guidelines unless it would be unjust to do so, in which case they must give a reason.

"Possession of a knife or other bladed article, or using one to threaten, automatically attracts the most severe sentences under the guidelines.

"Every case is different, and judges and magistrates weigh up the specifics of the case to enable them to pass a considered sentence."

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