Fatima Laher in Bladed Article Case

Published: 15th April 2024

Fatima Laher recently represented a defendant charged with 1 count of possessing a bladed article, contrary to s.139 Criminal Justice Act 1988. Fatima Laher, made a successful submission of no case to answer, whereby the charge was dismissed and the defendant was acquitted.

The defendant was stopped and searched by police and found in possession of a lock knife, an offence for which the defendant could have received up to 4 years imprisonment. A further aggravating feature in the case was that the defendant had been recently convicted of a similar type of offence.

There were two issues in this case. Firstly, whether a lock knife is categorised as a ‘bladed article’ which the act states is ‘any article which has a blade or is sharply pointed, except a folding pocket knife’, s.139 (2) or under s.139 (3) a ‘folding pocket knife, if the cutting edge of its blade exceeds 3 inches.’  A folding pocketknife does not fall to be liable within the legislation.

Following rigorous cross-examination of the OIC, it could not be said with confidence that the blade did exceed 3 inches.  The officer provided a very limited description, the photographs were unreliable and no physical exhibit was provided during the trial to demonstrate that (a) the blade exceeded 3 inches, (b) a folding mechanism existed, or (c) that it was capable of being locked in position. Therefore, it was not a prohibition in which s.139 applies.

During the submission, the court was referred to the Court of Appeal judgment in R v Deegan (1998) 2 Cr.App.R.121 CA where it was ruled that a ‘lock knife’ does not fall within the category of a ‘folding pocket knife’ because it is not immediately foldable at all times. Fatima further relied on the authorities of Sharma v DPP [2018] EWHC 3330 which sets out the definition of a folding knife and Godwin v DPP [1993] 96 Cr App R 244, to demonstrate that the defendant had a good reason for possessing the knife.

Fatima was instructed by Chris Finnegan, Drummonds Solicitors.