A church beadle turned up at a benefits assessment with a kitchen knife – and was then allowed to leave with it, a court heard.
Campbell Freeman, an Inverness prisoner, had been remanded since October 25 when he went into the Centre for Health and Disability in Baron Taylor Street, Inverness, and produced a knife.
But Sheriff Margaret Neilson was told that he didn’t intend to harm or frighten anyone, and had absent-mindedly placed his breakfast knife and fork into a bag containing others items and documentation.
The Centre is a small office that undertakes assessments of benefit claimants’ capacity to work on behalf of the Department of Work and Pensions.
The court heard Freeman, of Knocknagael, Inverness, had gone there on October 25.
Fiscal depute Roderick Urquhart said: “During the assessment, the nurse asked the accused about his mental health.
“He responded by producing what the witnesses later described as a kitchen knife with a black handle and steel blade approximately 5 ½ inches long.
“He did not behave in a threatening manner with the knife but explained that while he did not intend to hurt anyone with it, it made him feel safe.”
Mr Urquhart added: “The knife was removed to the other office while the nurse continued with the assessment. In the meantime, another member of staff Ms Bradbury phoned her line manager who advised her that, unless Freeman was being threatening, they did not need to contact the police.
“At the conclusion of the assessment, the knife was returned to him and he was repeatedly apologetic to both women, insisting that he did not intend to harm anyone with the knife.”
Defending, George Mathers stressed that the ladies didn’t feel threatened and his client had been anxious about the assessment and became confused.
He added: “He has previous convictions, one very serious, which are down to his long-standing problem with alcohol.
“But the support of his church has been a major factor for him, and he is desrcibed by his minister as an ‘asset in the congregation’ and can be trusted.”
Sentence was deferred until January 11 for a background report and Freeman was released on bail.
Freeman admitted possessing a knife without reasonable excuse.