A WORKINGTON man who was caught by police carrying a knuckle-duster claimed that the weapon was in fact a perfectly legal "meat tenderiser."

But that explanation cut no ice with a Carlisle Crown Court judge, who told 39-year-old Wayne Smithson that he now cut a "sorry figure" but that he could still change his ways.

The defendant, of Fisher Street, Workington, admitted having an offensive weapon in a public place with no good excuse.

The court heard how the offence came to light on August 27 last year when police spotted the defendant chasing a man through a part of Workington.

When challenged about this, Smithson said that he had wanted to remonstrate with the man about something.

When he was searched, police found a wrap of heroin. He was also carrying the knuckle-duster. At his house, three different sort of drugs were found.

Prosecutor Tim Evans said the defendant had 58 offences on his criminal record, including some for violence. There were also 19 dishonesty offences and - more significantly - two convictions for having offensive weapons.

This meant that Smithson, of Fisher Street, Workington, was now liable for a minimum six month jail term.

The defendant's defence barrister Jamie Baxter said Smithson was indeed a sorry case of a man whose life had been blighted by drug addiction.

Mr Baxter said Smithson, who also admitted criminal damage to a police cell and possessing heroin, cannabis and diazepam, had been drug dependant for many years.

He had not brandished the knuckle-duster.

Jailing the defendant for six months, Judge Nicholas Barker told him: "You cut something of a sorry figure at the age of 39. You have been appearing in the dock of this court and the magistrates court for a very long time.

"You fail to learn your lesson. There have been numerous interventions and support...

"You have developed a tendency over the last ten years to carry weapons - a Stanley knife on the last occasion and an unpleasant looking knuckle-duster on this occasion. Your explanation to the Probation officer was that it was a meat tenderising tool.

"I have no truck with that." The judge said the necessary support would be available if he wanted to change his "sorry life."

"Those opportunities remain," added the judge.