Knife yob ‘Curly’ attached razor blades shank to trainers in jail

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A teenager was caught with a double bladed shank hidden inside one of his trainers at HMP Altcourse.

Liam Ellis was locked up for 10 months after he was spotted boarding a Merseyrail train with a hunting knife down his tracksuit bottoms.

When arrested in May last year, the 18-year-old said he had the "terrifying" 10.5 inch blade for "protection" because "I'm a wanted man".

Liverpool Crown Court heard that just over a month after being sentenced in September, Ellis was caught with a homemade weapon.

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The 19-year-old, of Manica Crescent, Fazakerley, pleaded guilty to possessing a bladed article at HMP Altcourse on October 24.

At the start of a hearing today, Desmond Lennon, defending, referred to claims Ellis made to a probation officer in a pre-sentence report.

Judge Stuart Driver, QC, said: "It was an account he gave about why he made the weapon and how it came to be in his shoe."

Mr Lennon said: "He no longer stands by that. He will state that on admission to the young offenders institution wing of Altcourse, people he did not know called him by his own name and nickname, Curly, and threatened to 'stab him up'.

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"He's been a victim of bullying in the past due to being small in stature. Also, older people he was in fear of were outside the prison itself. He was warned he would be attacked, so he had the knife to try and protect himself."

Mr Lennon said Ellis, who previously dislocated his shoulder before going into custody, was attacked at Altcourse and suffered another dislocation.

He said Ellis was going to be taken to Aintree hospital and had the shank because "he was fearful that somebody on the wing would tell someone outside".

Liam Ellis leaving court with his parents on a previous occasion.

Judge Driver interjected and said there was no written basis of plea and "what it boiled down to" was Ellis had the weapon for self-defence and would use it if required, which Mr Lennon said his client accepted.

Paul Blasbery, prosecuting, said the shank was discovered during an X-ray search when Ellis was about to be transferred to hospital.

He said: "On closer inspection attached to the top of one of his training shoes was what's described as a plastic handle with two razor blades attached to the top."

Mr Blasbery said Ellis gave a "no comment" interview around five weeks later.

Ellis had three previous convictions for four offences, including possessing an offensive weapon in November 2018, when he received a six-month youth referral order.

That involved an incident in October that year, when officers responded to an intruder alarm in Kirkdale and found Ellis with his face covered, dressed all in black and wearing gloves, with a knuckle duster in his coat pocket.

He was fined for possessing heroin and cocaine in February 2020 and then on May 14 was caught with the hunting knife at Kirkdale train station.

During a struggle when Ellis tried to hide that blade in a sling he was wearing, one officer tried to seize the weapon and suffered a cut to his hand.

The large hunting knife Liam Ellis, then 18, hid down his tracksuit bottoms

Judge Driver today looked at a photo of that knife and said: "It's not a kitchen knife, it's a perhaps machete style knife.

"That's what he was serving a sentence for when he committed this offence."

Mr Lennon accepted Ellis had an "uneviable" record for possessing knives but said he expressed remorse in a pre-sentence report, despite not being "frank" with the author about what really happened.

He said Ellis lived with his mum, dad, older brother and younger sister, who were a "very hardworking" and law-abiding family, and his mum, sitting in the public gallery, was upset and "greatly disappointed".

Mr Lennon said Ellis started working for a seafood company after he was released from prison and since January his behaviour had been "exemplary" and he appeared to have "turned his life around completely".

He said his client hadn't shown "a great deal of commonsense" in the past and "was in fear at the time for his own safety" when he had the weapon.

Mr Lennon urged the judge to suspend or defer the sentence to see if his client could stay out of trouble, adding that his mum was concerned about him going back into custody due to his past problems there.

Liverpool's courts are some of the busiest in the UK, with a huge variety of cases being heard each week.

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Judge Driver told Ellis: "You now accept that you made that item to have it with you for self-defence and you would have used it, if it had been necessary."

The judge said the case was "seriously aggravated" by his two previous convictions for possessing an offensive weapon, adding: "The most recent saw you on a train in possession of a very large, dangerous knife."

Judge Driver said: "It was while you were serving that sentence that you decided to make this double bladed weapon that you could conceal upon yourself and it itself is a very dangerous item."

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The judge noted Ellis was only 19, since being released from jail had made "real efforts" to improve his life and a reference described him as a "good worker".

But he said: "The only conclusion I can draw from the nature of your criminal record is that you're someone who presents a danger and a risk to the public because of your tendency to possess weapons."

Ellis' mum and a young woman sitting in the public gallery cried as he was locked up for 10 months.