A KNIFE-WIELDING Scarborough woman has escaped an immediate jail sentence despite being caught carrying a blade in the street.
Vanessa Shellard, of Hinderwell Road, pleaded guilty to having the knife after being searched by officers in North Marine Road in December.
Shellard, 39, told Scarborough Magistrates’ Court the blade was protection against a potential attacker who had targeted her in the past.
She also pleaded guilty to stealing two bottles of perfume worth £99 from Debenhams just two days before she was arrested for carrying the knife.
Prosecuting, Steve Ovenden said: “She went into Debenhams and put the perfume in her pocket.
“She was stopped and taken back into the store and arrested.
“The second incident came while she was on bail when officers carried out a search and heard something drop to the floor from her trouser leg.
“It was found to be a knife, however, there is no suggestion the knife was used or brandished in threatening circumstances.”
“When she was interviewed she said she carried it because she was fearful of someone who had threatened her.”
Mitigating, Robert Vining said Shellard was acting purely in self-defence and had taken the decision to carry the blade to give her opportunity to “exit stage left” if her attacker returned.
He said: “She was attacked and is still getting treatment.
“This was not someone who puts a knife in their pocket because there is a vague idea that there might be violence.
“It does not condone what happened but she had no choice.
“However, there are no excuses and she hoped that it could give her enough time to exit stage left and get away and that puts it in a whole new ball game.
“It has not been produced to a member of the public, I know the court cannot say it is alright to put a knife in your pocket but you can understand why she was so fearful.”
Mr Vining also explained Shellard was suffering financial hardship and returned to her criminal past as a way to ease her heavy cash burden.
He added: “She was waiting for a cheque to arrive and money for heating.
“It was an act of stupidity because that cheque did not come and old habits surfaced again.
“She went out and stole for something to sell and put money in the meter and have some food.”