A man who was arrested after he was spotted acting suspiciously near the docks was found to be carrying a knife for his ‘own protection’.

Wail Hamid was found hiding after a member of the public raised concerns about his behaviour, Teesside Crown Court heard.

The 26-year-old was initially arrested as a potential illegal immigrant as he was found on Dockside Road, Middlesbrough, said Nigel Soppitt, prosecuting.

“They approached the defendant who was crouched in the grass,” he said. “He was searched and a black kitchen knife was found in his bag.

“Initially, he complied with the police but once in the custody area he became aggressive.

“He said he was carrying the knife for his own protection.”

Mr Soppitt told the court that defendant had previously been jailed for 18 months for a criminal damage spree when he smashed several windows as he walked along the street.

Hamid, of Southfield Road, Middlesbrough, pleaded guilty to possession of a bladed article following his arrest on July 13 last year.

Michele Turner, mitigating, said her client was suffering from ‘extreme trauma’ and his immigration application was still being processed.

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She said: “The hostel where he is staying has done a remarkable job with him. He now has his own support worker and his English has improved significantly.”

Judge Timothy Stead said: “If you had produced the knife or threatened somebody with it, you would have been going to prison but you didn’t.

“I’m satisfied that I can deal with your case without having to send you to prison.”

Hamid was given an 18-month community order and told to attend 25 rehabilitation activity requirement days and carry out 50 hours of unpaid work.