But Cleveland Police questioned in court over claims Mark Trippett was only stopped because he had a far-right group’s shirt on
A man wearing a T-shirt seemingly proclaiming him to be a far-right group’s “soldier” was nicked after police caught him with a £1.50 knuckleduster.
Officers stopped Middlesbrough’s Mark Trippett while he was wearing a “right wing” North East Infidels shirt.
However, Trippett – who has EDL tattooed on his neck – insist he doesn’t share their views.
And he’s been spared prison for carrying the knuckleduster after a judge heard there was “no reason” to stop him, other than for his shirt.
Police used stop and search powers as Trippett walked along Corporation Road in Middlesbrough on July 16.
Teesside Magistrates’ Court heard on Wednesday that he had forgotten it was there.
“He said he didn’t intend on using it and it was a daft mistake,” added the probation service.
He handed the knuckleduster straight to police, with his solicitor adding it had been a “serene” incident.
“There were no threats to police and he handed the weapon straight over,” he said.
“Perhaps it was a macho thing at the time, and it wasn’t thought through.”
Trippett, 35, of Carisbrooke Avenue, Thorntree, had been wearing the North East Infidels shirt – emblazoned with the word “soldier” – when he was arrested.
The group marched alongside EDL and National Front members in Stockton last year.
The Teesside branch claim on Facebook the group is a “family”, but in court they were dubbed “right wing”.
However, Judge Martin Walker questioned if Cleveland Police had simply targeted him because of his shirt, with the court hearing there had been “no disorder” in the area to warrant stop and search laws being deployed.
Tracksuit-clad Trippett had pleaded guilty to possessing an offensive weapon, which he claimed he’d bought for £1.50.
Judge Walker warned the offence would almost always carry a jail term.
But he instead handed him a one-year community order, but not without dishing out a dressing down.
“Certainly (the knuckleduster) is only used to cause serious harm to another human being,” added Judge Walker.
“That is what the knuckleduster is for – to enhance the power of the fist.”
Cleveland Police declined to comment. The weapon will be destroyed.