A chef has been spared jail after being caught with knives outside a Sainsbury's in Maidenhead.

In the dock at Reading Crown Court was Mark Denman, 28, of Newtown Gardens, Henley-on-Thames.

Today (March 6), the court heard that Denman was apprehended by police on April 25, 2022, after a member of the public saw him with a blade sticking out of his waistband near the Sainsbury's in Providence Place.

Officers found three knives on Denman's person - but they subsequently established that these were not weapons, but items from his work as a chef.

At interview, Denman pleaded guilty to possession of a bladed article, claiming he had previously been threatened by a man who loitered around the Sainsbury's.

This led him to carry knives around when nearby - although he denied fixing one to his waistband.

Prosecuting barrister Hassan Baig said the blades found on Denman were 'tools of his trade'.

Mr Baig told the court:  "There was no evidence it [the knife] was ever brandished. It was not found in a position of disorder, or anything like that."

He said of Denman: "It appears that this was a moment of stupidity on his behalf."

Defence barrister Sam Lubner concurred with the prosecution, arguing that his client should not receive a prison sentence of any kind.

He said: "In reality, there is a lot of personal mitigation here."

Judge Matthew Turner agreed with the barristers' assessment of Denman.

He said he was in stable employment, supports his family, and lacks any previous criminal record.

The judge said: "This was an isolated offence, totally out of character. It is also an offence that was short-lived."

In the end, Judge Turner handed Denman a 12-month community order.

He must complete 150 hours of unpaid work, and pay £400 in court costs.

There were comical scenes in court when barristers flagged up the issue of a cannabis joint found on Denman alongside the knives.

Mr Baig raised the question of destroying the drugs.

The defendant laughed when Judge Turner said of the joint: "I think it's fair to say you won't be getting that back!"