A DRUG addict armed himself with a knuckleduster because he was terrified of a drug dealer who was out of prison, a court heard.

York Crown Court was told that Thomas Andrew Finister had been beaten up so badly he had ended up in hospital.

Brooke Morrison, prosecuting, said police found the illegal weapon when they stopped a car on Barlby Road, Selby, in which Thomas Andrew Finister was one of two passengers.

Because he had three previous convictions for carrying a weapon or knife in public, the law declared he must be jailed for at least six months unless there were “exceptional circumstances”.

Defence solicitor advocate Graham Parkin said: “The rationale for having the items was because a known drug dealer, his drug dealer, was out (of prison).”

He said the knuckleduster was a small one attached to a key ring and was not the standard type of knuckleduster. It was still illegal.

Finister, 53, of Bridge Court, Selby, pleaded guilty to having an offensive weapon in public.

Judge Simon Hickey told him the drug dealer had “beaten you up so badly you ended up in hospital. I suspect that is why you carried such a weapon".

That and other facts  including the current overcrowding in prison amounted to "exceptional circumstances". 

The judge decided to suspend the six-month sentence for 12 months on condition Finister does a six-month alcohol treatment programme, a second rehabilitation programme and 10 days’ rehabilitative activities.

He warned Finister that if he carried a weapon in public again or used a weapon, he really would end up in prison. 

He ordered the weapon to be confiscated.

Ms Morrison said that there were three people in the car stopped in Barlby Road at 8pm on August 14, all of whom were searched.

Finister claimed he didn’t have anything on him, but police found the knuckleduster in his jeans’ pocket.

He told officers he had it because the drug dealer was at liberty.

Finister has 75 previous convictions, many of them for possessing cannabis, shoplifting and burglary, the court heard.

They included carrying a knife in 2009, affray and having an offensive weapon in 2018 when he was jailed for 15 months, and a second offence for carrying an offensive weapon in 2018.

Mr Parkin said there had been a “considerable time” since Finister’s last conviction in 2021 and he had made “considerable efforts” in avoiding offending.

“He is a man with mental health problems, (which) he knows have not been helped with his addiction to Class A drugs, but he has dealt with that.”