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Commuter Convicted For Using Sword-Stick Against Subway Attacker

September 11, 1987

LONDON (AP) _ A commuter who said he used a sword concealed in his walking stick to defend himself against an attack on a London subway train was convicted Thursday of using an offensive weapon.

Eric Butler received a suspended 28-day prison sentence and was fined $328. He was also ordered to surrender the weapon.

Butler, who supervises credit operations for an oil company, pleaded innocent to possessing an offensive weapon, but a jury found him guilty in Wood Green Crown Court in north London.

He testified that a drunken man kicked him in the face, then gripped him around the throat and repeatedly banged his head against the train doors.

″My air supply was being cut off, my eyes were blurred and I feared for my life,″ said Butler, 56.

He said he pulled out his sword-stick blade and ″lunged blindly, in order to get him away.″

Prosecutor Michael Lawson said the 28-year-old alleged assailant, who was stabbed in the abdomen, suffered no lasting injury. The suspect, whose name has not been made public, faces trial in connection with the March 9 incident.

Sword-sticks are sold legally in London, and Robert Adeney, owner of a shop selling them on Piccadilly, testified that 95 percent are sold to collectors.

Butler, a collector, said he paid about $656 for his sword-stick and he used it as a support because of a bad leg. He denied carrying it for defending himself.

But Judge Michael McMullen told the jury that the issue they had to decide was whether it was an offensive weapon and if Butler had a reasonable excuse for having it with him.

″The court has to consider what contribution it can make to reduce the appalling rate of stabbings and knifings which are occuring in London at the moment,″ McMullen said in passing sentence.

He added: ″I cannot accept that anyone spents 400 pounds on an item of this sort simply to use as a walking stick. I accept that you were not swaggering about looking for an occasion to use it.″

Said Butler: ″I am absolutely and completely shattered. If I had not been carrying the sword-stick that day I would not have been answering this charge because I would be dead.

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