A man caught carrying a firearm disguised as a torch in a city park has kept his freedom.
Jason Jemma had the device, which was a stun gun, or taser, but looked like a regular torch and had the word ‘police’ printed on, at Mowbray Park in Sunderland in September 2018.
After a trial at Newcastle Crown Court the 31-year-old, of Peasemore Road, Pennywell, Sunderland, was convicted of possessing a disguised firearm.
He had pleaded guilty to possessing a CS gas canister and a small amount of cannabis, which he was also carrying.
Judge Julie Clemitson told him at the sentencing hearing today: “You had a stun gun disguised as a torch in Mowbray Park.
“When interviewed you told the police a friend had bought the taser, you thought he had bought it from the dark web.
“You said you had taken it out in public for the first time that day.”
Jemma told police he had been the victim of an attack in the same park previously.
Judge Clemitson told him: “You said you knew you shouldn’t have it and you wouldn’t have used it.
“You had the device with you with the intention to deter would-be attackers.”
Judge Clemitson said the device was “non lethal” and could have caused pain but not serious injury.
Jemma was sentenced two years imprisonment, suspended for two years. with rehabilitation requirements and a six month curfew.
Tony Cornberg, said Jemma has unresolved bereavement and anxiety issues and being assisted by the probation service is more constructive than him going to jail.
Mr Cornberg said Jemma is now a settled family man who has been in no trouble since.
He added that there had been delays in the case reaching conclusion and Jemma had spent months “stressed as to what might happen to him today, knowing perfectly well immediate custody could be on the cards”.