Man caught buying pepper spray on eBay

A 39-year-old Norfolk man tried to buy illegal pepper sprays from America on the internet auction site Ebay to provide protection for his wife, a court heard yesterday.

A 39-year-old Norfolk man tried to buy illegal pepper sprays from America on the internet auction site Ebay to provide protection for his wife, a court heard yesterday.

Stephen Hilldrup's wife worked in Norwich and walked in the area and he wanted her to feel safe.

But Norwich Crown Court was told his orders were intercepted by the postal depot at Mount Pleasant in London.

Hilldrup, of Rectory Road, Wood Norton, near Dereham, admitted possessing a prohibited weapon - a canister spray for the discharge of a noxious gas - and attempting to possess such a spray between January and February this year.

He also pleaded guilty to possessing cannabis and producing cannabis on February 19.

Hilldrup was ordered to do 80 hours' unpaid community work for the cannabis offences and given a 12-month conditional discharge for the spray offence.

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Recorder Stuart Bridge said: "I accept you were unaware they were not allowed."

Hilldrup had been sent to crown court for sentencing by West Norfolk magistrates.

Stephen Poole, prosecuting, said an Air Mail packet from the USA containing a pepper spray was intercepted at the British Mail depot and a total of three packages were intercepted.

The sprays are illegal in this country.

Police later found 17 cannabis plants growing in a shed at his home along with 298 grams of cannabis worth about £500.

Gavin Gloag, defending, said Hilldrup had tried to buy the pepper spray on Ebay as they were being sold in America and he did not realise it was illegal in Britain. They only cost $4 and he had an old spray at home which he bought in Bulgaria in 1984 for 50p which he had never used.