Cleaner’s job fear after bayonet found in van

A POLICE sniffer dog at the US base at Menwith Hill found a military-style bayonet during a search of a van ferrying contract cleaners to the station, a court was told last Thursday.

And the find could cost Andrew Michael Daley his job – and the home which goes with it – if his security status is deemed to have been sufficiently compromised.

Daley, 47, from Worcester where he works for an industrial cleaning company with contracts at military bases and prisons across the country, pleaded guilty to possession of an offensive weapon on September 12.

Prosecutor Martin Butterworth told Harrogate magistrates Daley had arrived at Menwith Hill to begin a four-day contract.

Police had put his Transit van into a holding area at the base’s Nessfield Gate while it was routinely searched.

Mr Butterworth said a sniffer dog had shown an interest in a canvas bag which had been found to contain a military bayonet in a sheath. Daley said it was used when he was hunting and fishing and for holding up targets when he was using his air rifle.

He had taken the rifle out of the van but had forgotten about the bayonet, which he had got from a mate who had wanted rid of it. In mitigation Andrew Tinning said Daley, who lived above his job premises, stood to lose both work and home when his security status came to be reviewed after his conviction.

Leaving the bayonet in the van was a mistake for which he could pay dearly.

Presiding magistrate Eric Fell told Daley the court believed his story, but his position was aggravated because the weapon had been found at Menwith Hill. Mr Fell said: ‘‘It was a stupid thing to do as you obviously know the security precautions taken at such bases.

“And we have heard there was usually an air rifle in the bag. We would hate to think what would have happened had it still been there.’’

Daley was fined £300 with £85 costs and a £15 victim surcharge and told by Mr Fell that while the court believed he had no sinister intentions, his security status was for others to decide.