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Northern Ireland news

Man once set on fire while homeless is jailed for having a knife

Jamie Lee Quinn (28) received a five-month jail sentence at Belfast Magistrate's Court

A Belfast man who was once set on fire while homeless has been jailed for carrying a knife in the city centre.

Jamie Lee Quinn received a five-month sentence after he admitted possessing a bladed article he claimed was for his own protection.

As the prison term was imposed at Belfast Magistrates' Court, the 28-year-old shouted out: "I'm living under the threat of death constantly."

Quinn, a recovering drug addict of no fixed address, was arrested at Royal Avenue on New Year's Day.

Prosecutors said police alerted by a member of the public found the knife concealed under a blanket he was sitting on.

While in custody a small amount of herbal cannabis was discovered in his trouser pocket.

Defence counsel Sean Mullan told the court Quinn had managed to go cold-turkey after battling serious addiction and related issues.

"He's had problems with heroin, crack cocaine and legal highs," the barrister said.

Mr Mullan also revealed that his client has now secured a flat following a long-term period of homelessness.

"In Christmas 2016 someone set fire to him and he spent three weeks in hospital," he said.

"People like him have knives for protection, although he shouldn't have had it."

Deputy District Judge Peter Prenter gave Quinn credit for pleading guilty to having the blade, but pointed to a previous conviction for the same offence.

At that point the defendant told him of the alleged death threats.

Mr Prenter responded: "I'm afraid you're going to be going somewhere where maybe the threat will be negated - I have no option but to impose a term of imprisonment."

Jailing Quinn for a total of five months, he added: "You should not have had a knife or a bladed instrument with you at all, especially given your own condition."

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