Former election candidate convicted of having a knife in public
- Credit: Polly Hancock
An anti-LTN campaigner who stood in Islington's St Peter's ward May by-election has been found guilty of possession of a knife in a public place.
An 8cm-bladed kitchen knife was found in the centre console of Jody Graber's car when he was pulled over by police on March 11 at the junction of Essex Road with Cross Street, Highbury Corner Magistrates' Court heard on Wednesday (October 20).
Officers noted that when the 41-year-old, of Wharton Street, Islington, got out of his car he appeared "extremely nervous, and was shaking".
Body-worn camera footage was played to the court of the moment the knife was discovered underneath dozens of plastic spoons in the compartment between the driver and passenger seat.
In his defence, Graber claimed the knife was accidentally left in the car after he took it to be sharpened at Chapel Market.
But, finding him guilty, District Judge Alexander Jacobs said: "The law is clear that forgetfulness doesn’t break the line of possession so as to excuse it."
PC Dave Savage, from the Met's violence suppression unit, told the court that after he told Graber that a knife had been found in his car, he heard him to protest to his colleague that the knife "wasn’t within reach" and that "it was at the bottom".
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He said that if Graber hadn't known the knife was in the vehicle, he would not have known it was buried underneath the spoons.
Graber's barrister said that as his client was stood near the car during the search, he could have seen where the knife was found.
Giving evidence, Graber, who works as a floor sander, said it had long been a "bane" at his girlfriend's house that they "couldn’t cut a tomato with her knife because the knives were so blunt".
He continued: "I knew about the stall at Chapel Market. He’s been there as long as I’ve been in Islington. I've recommended his stall to various community groups.
"He charges around a pound a knife. You take it to him. I’ve done it twice, wrapped up in a newspaper in a bag to prevent them breaking through the bag in the street, and I prefer to take them in my vehicle rather than on a bus.
"Instead of buying a whole new set of knives we took them to the stall."
He described putting the knives into the central console and said one must had been left behind by mistake.
He claimed he hadn't spotted it when he put the plastic spoons on top, when they were bought during a trip to the seaside.
The district judge asked: "Why were you carrying that knife? As a weapon for yourself for any reason?"
The defendant replied: "Far from it your honour. It's not me sir. I’d never dream of carrying it to someone to even attempt to scare. It's not in my character."
Finding him guilty, Mr Jacobs said: "The law is clear that forgetfulness doesn’t break the line of possession so as to excuse it.
"You said you had it for a legitimate purpose originally. You’ve been able to establish when that happened. You’ve been unable to produce a receipt. I don’t doubt that there is a chap in Chapel Market and I find it believable that you were taking it at some point with other knives to be sharpened. At some stage it became separated and ended up in that centre console."
But he continued: "It is the responsibility of the person taking knives to make sure they deal with it in a proper manner. In your account you failed to do that.
"In this case I’ve found your evidence to be wholly unconvincing in that you haven’t at any stage seen it or known about it until the officer saw it.
"There is no suggestion that I am aware of that it was to be used in dangerous circumstances."
Sentencing was adjourned until November 9.
Mr Graber has been a vocal opponent of the council's People Friendly Streets programme since it was introduced last summer.
Following his defeat as the independent candidate in the St Peter's by-elections in May, when he came last with 318 votes, he vowed to stand as councillor again in May 2022.