Man carried machete through Stockton 'for protection' after drugs went missing from 'crack house'

Lee Booth was jailed at Teesside Crown Court on Monday
-Credit: (Image: Cleveland Police)

A man seen rushing through Stockton town centre with a machete said he was carrying the weapon for protection after drugs went missing from a "crack house".

Lee Booth, 39, was captured on CCTV carrying the weapon on Yarm Lane in the late hours of May 19 while constantly looking behind him. Prosecuting the case, Jenny Haigh told Teesside Crown Court it was about 11.10pm when the defendant was seen by a passing resident with a large machete sticking out of his pocket.

Moments later she said police swooped on the the town centre arresting Booth after he placed the weapon on the ground. She said the defendant was interviewed and made full admissions.

He told officers he was carrying the weapon for protection, Ms Haigh said: "He said he had been at a crack cocaine house and when cocaine went missing he seemed to think he was being blamed for it. He left the address taking a machete he'd seen there. He said it was for his protection."

The court heard Booth has 55 convictions for 135 offences but none for possession of weapons. The defendant pleaded guilty to possession of a bladed article at the earliest opportunity.

Kate Clarke, mitigating, said the defendant flagged police down at the time as was "fearful for his own life". She said he'd only been out of prison a matter of days when he fell into his old ways.

The court heard the defendant left the property with the machete as believed it would be used on him. Ms Clarke said he is now homeless and wants help, she said: "He has nowhere to live at the moment his family seem to have left him. He wants to spend some time in custody in order to get the right support from the relevant authorities."

Sentencing, Judge Richard Bennett said: "You have a very bad record but this is in fact your first weapon offence. The message has to go out that those who carry knives in public must expect when they come to court to go to prison immediately."

The defendant - previously of Parliament Walk, Stockton - was handed a four-month prison sentence. After sentencing, Booth told Judge Bennett: "Thank you Your Honour. God Bless."

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