Knuckle duster importer spared jail because he bought them to sew into fetish clothing
A 56-year-old Doncaster man, who attempted to illegally import 800 knuckle dusters into the country to sew into 'fetish and BDSM' clothing, has been spared jail.
Sheffield Crown Court was told how during a business trip to China in 2015, Michael Lynch bought a number of materials including chains and knuckledusters, which are classed as 'offensive weapons' and are illegal in this country, to be used for clothing sold through his fetish and BDSM (Bondage and Dominance, Sado-Masochism) clothing company, Vixen.
He then attempted to ship the materials from China back to his home address in Crabtree Road, Dunscroft in around 20 different boxes.
Prosecutor Zaiban Alam told the court that several of the boxes were picked up by customs, despite him labeling all of them as containing 'chains' - with no mention of the knuckledusters.
He was later arrested, and charged with possession of an offensive weapon in May last year, relating to the packages
Under cross examination during Thursday's sentencing Lynch said he labeled the boxes as chains due to a mix-up at the Post Office, and told the court he thought the knuckle dusters were buckles, and did not realise they were illegal.
He said: "I thought they were buckles when I bought them, I didn't realise they were knuckle dusters until the police told me.
But Ms Alam told the court that when Lynch was arrested by police he said: 'Oh, that'll be about the knuckle dusters then'.
Lynch said: "The clothes I make aren't fetish clothing, but they do relate to the BDSM fetish."
Ms Alam questioned whether Lynch's assertion that he had no idea the knuckle dusters could be used as weapons was truthful, given that inflicting pain can be a component of BDSM.
This was rejected by Lynch.
Defending Lynch, Andrew Smith said: "My client is someone who didn't know what he was doing was illegal.
"The best point I can make is if he deliberately wanted to mislead customs, he could have simply written 'buckles' on the labels."
Lynch pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing, on the basis that he did not realise it was illegal to import knuckle dusters into the United Kingdom, which was accepted by the Crown.
Sentencing Lynch to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years, Judge Peter Kelson said: "I do not accept that you didn't know those items were unlawful, and I'm not overly impressed with your explanation about why the false labeling of the boxes came about.
"The prosecution have accepted your basis of plea..and so, my hands are tied."
Judge Kelson also ordered Lynch to complete 150 hours of unpaid work.