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Police: Why we arrested disabled 'fruit knife' man

By This is Devon  |  Posted: May 21, 2010

OFFENDING ITEM: PC Steve Ellyatt and the knife found in Rodney Knowles’ car

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TEIGNBRIDGE'S senior police officer yesterday explained why a disabled Newton Abbot man was taken to court for possessing a knife he claimed he used for cutting up fruit.

Superintendent Jim Meakin spoke publicly for the first time on why 61-year-old Rodney Knowles was charged with possessing the weapon — described in court as a Swiss Army-style knife.

Knowles, an enthusiastic caravanner, was arrested when the knife was found in his car's glove compartment soon after he left a Newton Abbot pub.

In the subsequent court case Knowles admitted the charge and was given a conditional discharge.

The court was told at the time that the knife was used for cutting up fruit on picnics with his wife, for whom he is the full-time carer.

The case made national headlines and Supt Meakin has since received up to 17 letters from concerned residents and would-be visitors about the case.

He issued his statement to clarify the law and explain why police took the action that they did. He said: "We stopped a very serious incident happening."

Knowles, 61, of Buckland, appeared before magistrates last month after he admitted possessing a knife.

The case related to the night of February 23 when Knowles was stopped by police after leaving the Highweek Inn pub. He was arrested for suspected drink-driving but a breath test showed he was under the legal limit. Police searched his car and found the knife.

Because he pleaded guilty some background details to the case were not given in open court, the Crown Prosecution Service says.

Supt Meakin said in his statement: "At 11.45pm on February 23, police received a report that while Mr Knowles was in the Highweek Inn he had made an alleged threat that he was going to use a knife to harm someone.

"The police were advised that Mr Knowles had left the address in a vehicle.

"The vehicle was stopped a short while later by my police officers, where Mr Knowles was arrested for supplying a positive breath test. A further test at the police station proved he was under the legal drink drive limit."

"The vehicle was searched for a weapon and a Buck Whittaker lock knife was found. The knife is illegal and has a serrated edge."

Supt Meakin maintained it was not a Swiss Army-style knife, as stated in Knowles's court case by prosecutor Philip Sewell.

Supt Meakin said: "Mr Knowles was interviewed the following morning about the alleged threats and the Crown Prosecution Service made a decision, based on all the circumstances, to charge Mr Knowles with the knife offence.

"I was really pleased that the police responded immediately to concerns raised by members of the public and local business community. The intervention stopped what could have been a very serious incident.

"I have personally spoken to and responded to various members of the community, members of the public who visit or wish to visit our district.

"Some of these letters were written by fishing clubs, camping and caravan associations and holidaymakers who had concerns regarding the reported article.

"I can assure you that people who possess a Swiss Army knife for a bona fide reason will not be prosecuted.

"I must point out that the law is clear: it is an offence for any person, without lawful authority or good reason, to have with him in a public place, any article which has a blade or is sharply pointed, except for a folding pocket knife which has a cutting edge to its blade not exceeding three inches."

A Crown Prosecution Service spokesman said: "Mr Knowles pleaded guilty so there wasn't a full trial and therefore all the facts did not come out in court. We are grateful to the police for their prompt action and stand 100 per cent behind our decision to prosecute Mr Knowles."

Mr Knowles's solicitor Jolyon Tuck said: "I can say quite safely Mr Knowles has no comment to make."

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  • mintyvision  |  February 10 2013, 11:50PM

    this man was convicted of raping children in 2011 - http://tinyurl.com/azlhrak

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    Harry Jackson, Cambridgeshire  |  January 31 2011, 7:04AM

    @Loon, Torbay and Mark Torbay, I'm sorry but that 'One hell of a fruit knife' appears to have a blade of around 2.5 inches. I serve in HM Armed forces and find that carrying a tool such as this or typically one much larger than this aids my day to day work massively. It is so useful knowing that whenever something happens your knife is on hand to help you out. Whether it be getting something caught in a door, needing to tighten a screw of cutting off a childs seatbelt from a car crash. Knives are tools and should be treated as such not as deadly weapons. Knives are not designed to kill people they are designed as a tool which can be used in a variety of ways to good effect the vast majority of them innocent and law-abiding uses. Mark, I carry a knife every single day on my belt, or when in the field I carry a bayonet or a Kukri (both very large blades) does this make me a bad person? No. Of course it doesn't I carry a Kukri blade when in the field, it is easily sharp enough to severe a hand with one or two slices but this is not the purpose I use it for. I use it to cross dense woodland and shrub and aid it in the construction of observation points and shelter. You appear to have some irrational fear of knives and speaking as a man who has witnessed knife attacks on people and have even been stabbed before I can say yes they are a tool which can be used for evil and to cause harm but they are also a tool which can save lives and be put to good use. A car is a far deadlier weapon than a knife ever will be, perhaps we should ban them. As I mean, there is surely only one real reason to have one and that is to crash into people. Hundreds of people die in car accidents and hit and run incidents every year but you don't see the crazed public running around saying "Ban Cars! they're weapons" do you? well. Not quite yet any who. This is because when you think car you think about its uses other than as a weapon. You think of transport and driving not of hit and runs and you need to apply this same logic when you think about knives. A knife is not designed to kill people it is designed to work as a tool, for slicing, chopping, skinning, gutting, tightening screws, cutting material or fabric and thousands of other jobs. It is not designed for youths to carry around on the street and if you really believe that having tools which can be fashioned from virtually any material to suit any purpose is suicide and should be a crime then I really honestly believe you should be talking to a therapist and psychologist as you seem to have a serious problem.

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    ReginaPhalange, Albany  |  June 27 2010, 5:35PM

    Good night. Whatever the mans' intentions were when he was stopped by the cops, that knife is not a weapon of mass destruction. It's a MULTITOOL, people. Have you become so afraid of everything that you think your tool boxes (do you even have those anymore?) will come to life in the middle of the night and use their contents to murder you? What you're seeing their is a photographic trick to make that knife look huge, when it's really not. See it in a proper setting here: http://www.multitool.org/miscellaneous-tools/medium-tools/buck-x-tract.html and notice that at no time did it attack or maim the reviewer. Your neighbor can kill you with a hammer, a screwdriver, a spanner (that's what you call 'em here, right?), the leg of his dining room table or a pencil or a pair of scissors if he wishes. When those are banned, he will kill you with his fists, feet and teeth, if he's got a mind to. Knives are not automatically bad. You've all been brainwashed into believing that a person should have a "good reason" for carrying a knife anywhere outside their home. A nut's a nut, whether he's got a tool or not, and a nut'll do damage regardless because HE'S A NUT. What you're all doing to yourselves is removing the ability to fix, build, create anything. And yes, ANY tool can be used as a weapon (even farming and gardening tools). And thank goodness for that or I might be living under the rule of your government now.

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    John T, Newton Abbot  |  May 30 2010, 8:16PM

    Mr Murphy must be confused, bless you Michael. I bet you find it difficult just to stand some days. If Michael had managed to get someone to this read this article to him, he may have realised it had something to do with a evil dirty old man with a vile past( and i would swear to that in court), who threatened someone with a " fruit knife"!!!!! So if Michael could have comprehended what happened, the Police managed to protect a member of the public... At no time did this article give any evidence of police incompetence, nor any other political statement, nor did it mention any natural disasters.... "Leave Mr Knowles out of it"... What did he think the article was about, someone needs to get a life... bless you Michael

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    henry, devon  |  May 28 2010, 10:13AM

    Actually, one policeman stood by. Using the actions of a single officer to judge an entire force doesn't indicate a high level of intelligence in a commenter.

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    Molly Cule, UK  |  May 25 2010, 7:35AM

    As usual all the 'anti-police' numpties get in their armchairs and pontificate. The man is a menace, and vile, as someone else pointed out. He uses his disability as a lever to make him look the innocent victim. The man is a dork, idiot, numpty, whatever you like to call him.

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    michael murphy, United Kingdom  |  May 24 2010, 6:54PM

    Leave Mr Knowles out of it and still the police are a pathetic bunch of buffoons. A week ago the the police stood on a bridge watching a woman drown in the River Clyde . Two first year students jumped in and got the woman to the river bank . The Glasgow Police said it wasn't their job !

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    John T, newton abbot  |  May 21 2010, 11:44PM

    I have worked with this man and know him quite well. I wish papers had the resources to background check people before making them look like victims. This man has a very intersting and disgusting past, which should be made public.Dig away Herald!!!

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    John T, Newton Abbot  |  May 21 2010, 9:27PM

    I worked in Centrax with this man, I think the herald should dig a little more about people, before they publish thier stories about an innocent disabled man!! There is far more to this story than meets the eye.... He is a vile man...

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    Zero, Kingswear  |  May 21 2010, 8:06PM

    micky b is on the money knowles is the past master of futile infamousy - total no mark waster.