A TEENAGER who was caught carrying a machete and a knuckleduster following a violent disturbance has been given the chance to turn his life around or face custody.

Leo Sharkey armed himself with the dangerous weapons when he went out on January 24 this year.

Teesside Crown Court heard how he became embroiled in a dispute and he pulled the machete out of his jacket, held to a person's throat before fleeing the scene in a taxi.

Emma Hughes, prosecuting, said the 18-year-old then left the scene but was picked up by police officers when he was spotted on Tranter Road, Middlesbrough.

She said when he was searched by officers they discovered the large machete and the knuckleduster hidden under his clothing.

Sharkey, of Salisbury Terrace, Middlesbrough, pleaded guilty to two charges of possession of an offensive weapon.

The court heard how he has since turned to boxing as a way of burning off his energy and learning self-discipline.

Judge Jonathan Carroll issued the teenager with a stark warning as he sentenced him to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years.

He said: "If you commit another offence, you will appear before me and you will be heading straight to custody."

Ordering Starkey to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work and attend 15 rehabilitation activity requirement days, the judge added: "You are at an important junction in life – you are going to have to make a choice and it's quite important.

"Not many 18-year-olds find themselves in the dock at crown court facing a prison sentence but you are one who did.

"If I did send you to prison for 12 months they would stick you in Durham Prison for four weeks while they decide what to do with you and you will be surrounded by people what are an awful lot bigger and harder than you.

"You are starting to make something of your life and you can sort it out now when you are going to the gym."