SUSPICIOUS hospital staff reported concerns to police as they believed a man in an accident and emergency area was in possession of a knife.

Officers went to A&E at the University Hospital of North Durham, in Durham, and found Thomas Quinell with a 7ins knife in his jacket pocket, at 10.45pm on November 29.

Durham Crown Court heard that he claimed to have found it, but forgot that he had it in his pocket, although he later told police he carried it, “for protection”.

The court was told he has a previous knife carrying conviction and was subject to a four-week suspended prison sentence at the time.

Quinell, 38, admitted possessing a knife in public and breaching the suspended sentence.

Jennifer Coxon, mitigating, said he was homeless at the time, was suffering depression and was prone to drinking cider to excess.

She added that he went to hospital with a foot ailment blamed on rough sleeping.

Judge Jonathan Carroll said he failed to believe anyone could “forget” to be carrying a 7in knife and jailed Quinell for 14 months and three weeks.