A CREWE man, who was stopped by customs after returning from a romantic getaway in Phuket with his girlfriend, was jailed for 16 months after two stun guns and a flick-knife were found in his luggage.
Andrew James Smith, 39, of Bray Close, bought the stun guns – disguised as torches - for £9 on the Thai island, and paid £1 for the flick-knife, which doubled as a cigarette lighter.
He pleaded guilty at Isleworth Crown Court of unlawfully importing the two stun guns at Heathrow Airport on Christmas Day, last year and possessing the offensive weapon – the knife - after stepping off his El Al flight.
The court heard the items were found among gifts he had bought for family and friends, which included soft toys, remote-controlled cars and framed pictures.
“There was no intention of ever using these for self-defence or ever harming anyone,” said Mr. Stephen Mejzner, defending.
“As soon as he got off the plane in Thailand he bought the lighter outside the airport because he wanted a cigarette.
“Every cigarette lighter there was a similar novelty item and these torches were on every stall and even children were buying them.
“The Thai locals were playing around with them and Mr. Smith thought they were a joke item. They were not even called stun guns, but 'zappers.'
“He had no idea they were illegal or could cause harm and intended giving one of the torches to his brother.”
Mr Mejzner said that Smith has now split with his legal secretary girlfriend and added : “The last few months have been an absolute nightmare for him and he has returned to drinking as a coping mechanism.
“An immediate custodial sentence will probably result in him losing his house of ten years.”
Judge Dugdale was persuaded that the five-year minimum sentence for such offences did not apply in the circumstances, but told Smith, who has convictions for grievous bodily harm and affray, that importing such weapons brings the risk they could fall into criminal hands.
He added: “It may seem more of a laugh when you are a long, long way away in Thailand, but then the reality comes crashing down when you return.”