A TEENAGER spotted hanging around a County Durham school was attempting to sell a folding lock knife to fund his cannabis habit.

The 17-year-old was seen outside St John's School, in Woodhouse Lane, Bishop Auckland, at about 10am on December 10.

Deborah Hodge, prosecuting, told South Durham Youth Court police were called but did not initially apprehend him.

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“However, there was a good description from CCTV pictures and at about 1.05pm, there was a report of him being back at the school in possession of the knife," she said.

"Officers caught up with him at the junction of Woodhouse Lane and Proudfoot Drive."

Ms Hodge told the court the knife was found hidden in the youth's right sleeve.

She said there had been an initial suggestion of threats being used in connection with the incident, but this had been discounted and the defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was charged with possession of the knife, aggravated by being present at the school.

Peter Furness, defending, said the youth, who co-operated with police from the outset and pleaded guilty to possessing the knife at the earliest opportunity, had found the blade in his ex-girlfriend's garden.

He said: “He had mentioned that fact to his stepdad and mother and both said not to take it outside the house.

“He ignored that and the following day went to the school where he had a friend he thought would buy it from him. The friend was not interested.”

Mr Furness added: “He had been going to sell the knife for cash to purchase cannabis – that habit is now under control.”

The court was told that although the teenager, from Bishop Auckland, had been expelled from a painting and decorating course at one local college for non-attendance, steps were being taken to get him onto another training course in the new year.

Sentencing him to a six-month youth referral order (YRO), chairman of the bench Les Abbott said: “You have gone and blown it – you have now got a record. I can only describe it as stupidity.

“You are 18 in March and had you been 18, you would have been locked up for it. You may think your mum and stepdad know nothing, but they know a blooming sight more than you. Their input this time was to leave the knife in the house.”

Mr Abbott also cautioned against the use of cannabis, adding: “My other job is in health care – leave cannabis alone, it's the first step.

"I have seen the effects cannabis has on people. You might think the odd puff is fine, but it doesn't work like that. Leave it alone.”

In addition to the YRO, the youth was ordered to pay £40 and a £15 victim surcharge. The bench also ordered the knife to be destroyed.