A WHITEHAVEN man accused of 'producing' a large hunting knife from his bag in a pub in the town must wait a further two weeks to discover whether he will be jailed.

At Carlisle Crown Court, a judge told 62-year-old John Sloan that the offence he has admitted – possessing the blade in a public place without a reasonable excuse – carries a mandatory minimum jail term of six months.

That is because he has previous convictions for similar offending.

Prosecutor Isabella Denn-White said the offence was committed at the Bransty Arch Wetherspoons in Whitehaven on February 5 this year.

Police were called after a report that Sloan was seen “brandishing” a knife while he was in the pub.

“Police attended and searched his bag,” said the barrister.

The officers found an eight-inch-long military style hunting knife in a sheath. The defendant told the police that he had just bought the blade from a shop opposite the pub. He did not threaten anybody with it, he told the officer. 

The court heard that Sloan has two relevant offences on his record – weapons offences dating back to 2021 and 2023, when he was given a six-month jail tern suspended for a year.

On the last occasion when he was prosecuted, the court heard he took a small sword to the Whittington Cat pub in Whitehaven. On that occasion also, he had just bought the item shortly before taking it to the pub.

His intention was to show the nine-inch long sword to a friend and then add it to his “collection” at his home. Sloan told magistrates he was unaware of the seriousness of what he did. In the earlier case, Sloan used a knife to "scare away" some boys.

The defendant’s defence barrister Brendan Burke addressed the court about the February 5 offence, saying that what Sloan did was “borderline legal. The defendant bought the knife minutes before arriving at the pub.

“It still had the price tag on it,” said the barrister.

“In Wetherspoons, he had opened his bag to show it so his friend could admire it. Then a member of staff spotted it as he was walking past.

There is not any real production. If he had just gone home with it instead of stopping off at the pub at the invitation of his friend, then he would not be here.”

Mr Burke said the defendant recognised that he had to be careful and as a consequence he had got rid of his entire collection and would not be buying any more weapons.”

Judge Nicholas Barker said the hearing had revealed a dispute about what happened, with a police officer reporting that the knife had been brandished and the defendant claiming he had simply opened his bag so that his friend could look at the blade inside it.

If the offence had been committed inadvertently, then that would affect sentence and may affect the court’s view on whether there were exceptional circumstances to justify not imposing the six-month minimum term.

Noting that prosecution papers referred to CCTV of the defendant at the pub, Judge Barker said he would adjourn sentence so that this extra evidence – not available during the hearing – could be looked at and assessed by both the prosecution and the defence.

When Sloan appeared in magistrates, his defence lawyer said there were "some significant issues mentally" with the defendant. He will be sentenced for his latest offence at the crown court on April 9.