A SHOPLIFTER’S claim that he forgot having a craft knife in his pocket while he was stealing from a store is to be tested at a trial of issue.

John Battman was to be sentenced at Durham Crown Court for a string of offences committed in York, London and in his home town of Newton Aycliffe, last year.

Battman, 41, of Aldfrid Place, admitted theft and possessing a bladed article, after his arrest when seen removing labels from jars of honey at Asda, in Monks Cross, York, on February 1.

He took the knife from his pocket and voluntarily handed it over when he was taken to a police station, later.

His counsel, Emma Hughes, told the court: “The knife, belonged to his son.

“It wasn’t found when he was searched, but he showed it to a police officer.

“Essentially, he forgot it was there and he certainly didn’t intend to have it in his possession at the shop.

“There’s no suggestion he used that it any offence.”

Asked by Judge Christopher Prince if the Crown accepted the defendant’s account, prosecutor Shaun Dryden said: “We accept he didn’t use it in the commission of the offence, but the Crown’s case is that he will have known he had it on him.”

Judge Christopher Prince said it would have a bearing on the ultimate sentence passed and so adjourned the hearing for a trial of issue, to be heard by him, at the court on Thursday February 21.