Man said it was a ‘total mistake’ illegal weapons, including stun guns, found in his bag at Norwich airport

Hellesdon - Norwich airport.  Photo: Bill Smith Hellesdon - Norwich airport. Photo: Bill Smith

Friday, March 28, 2014
7:35 AM

A man who was found with a stash of illegal weapons, including four stun guns disguised as mobile phones, at Norwich Airport has told how he felt “sick” when they were discovered, a court heard.

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John Sayer, 49, from Canary Scaffolding, on Ace industrial estate, Stratton Strawless, near Norwich, was also found with five knuckle-dusters, two extendable batons and another stun gun, when his luggage was searched after a trip to Thailand, where his wife is from, on May 21 last year.

Giving evidence at Norwich Crown Court yesterday Sayer, who has denied possession of all the prohibited weapons, told John Farmer, defending, what was going through his mind when the items were found.

He said: “I just felt sick because I knew I was in a lot of trouble - I had been there before - I was shocked.”

The jury of seven women and five men heard that Sayer had in 2010 been prosecuted after police discovered prohibited weapons - including three stun guns and CS spray - at his home after he brought them back for his wife although he said he was not then aware they were illegal.

Sayer, who subsequently had his firearms licence taken away, said the items found last May were not meant to be in his suitcase but were part of “stock” from stalls owned by his wife’s late grandfather which he had tried to sell during his trip to support her family.

Stock from stalls included headscarves, bandanas, key-rings, cigarette lighters, some shaped like grenades, wind-up torches, sunglasses, CCTV glasses, knives, and other items like knuckle dusters, extendable batons and stun guns which he described as “gimmicks”.

Although some of the stock was sold during the trip Sayer said there was still “a lot of it” left at the end of the fortnight.

The night before he left Sayer and his wife, who was staying on in Thailand for another two weeks, “just put everything in” their suitcases with the intention that they would stop on the way back to the airport to “buy additional luggage” to put the stock in so his wife could take it.

But Sayer said about 20 minutes into the journey “panic set in” after it was realised the passport belonging to his friend Alfred Freestone, who had joined him on the trip, was missing, leading to a roadside check of all their bags before they returned to the hotel to look for the passport.

The passport was not found and after reporting it missing to police and with time running out Sayer said it was resolved he and Mr Freestone’s son Matthew, who had also been on the holiday, would try and catch the flight leaving his friend with his wife.

Sayer said they stopped on the way to the airport to look once more for the passport but despite a second search the defendant said he neither saw the passport nor the prohibited items in his bag.

Chris Youell, prosecuting, in cross examination, said the items were “there to be seen” and suggested the only reason the items were found in his bag was because, like before, “you were smuggling them into the country”.

Sayer said on the first occasion he did not think he was doing anything wrong while he said the incident in May last year was a “total mistake”.

The trial continues.

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