A MAN who found a sword in the street after a shooting has walked free from court.

James Peacock was facing jail after CCTV footage showed him in Barden Moor Road, Darlington, in the early hours of February 20.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the 32-year-old had been staying at the home of a friend when the front door was shot at.

Peacock went into the street to look for a vehicle, saw the large weapon and took it back inside the property for "safe-keeping".

His barrister, Laurie Scott, told the court: "He is not threatening anyone at all with that item.

"The police ended up attending because of the firearm going off, and nothing to do with Mr Peacock.

"He asked the police to fingerprint the sword because that might have led to the identification of the people responsible for leaving it there."

Father-of-one Peacock, of Lapwing Drive, Darlington, admitted possessing an offensive weapon.

He was given an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, with 120 hours of unpaid community work, 20 days of rehabilitation activity and a Thinking Skills programme.

Judge Simon Bourne-Arton, QC, told the steel erector: "You are someone who acts without thought and on impulse.

"If I thought for a moment that sword was yours and you had some other motive, you would be serving this sentence immediately.

"There are far too many knives being held and carried by the public – in the main by young men – and sometimes they are used to deadly effect.

"That's why the public are sick and tired of people carrying weapons, knives and, here, this dreadful sword."