AN IRVINE teen has narrowly avoided being sent to prison after being caught with a weapon which a court sheriff said "could have killed someone".

James Aitken appeared at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court earlier this month after pleading guilty to being in possession of a machete on Harbour Street in Irvine on September 9, 2022.

His solicitor, Neil McPherson, admitted to Sheriff Murdoch Mactaggart that given the nature of the weapon he may be "compelled to imprison him".

Mr McPherson said: “(I) can remember the sheriff’s face when he saw the article which is meant to be used for cutting down trees.”

Though providing mitigation on Aitken's behalf, he noted that almost 18 months had past since the incident.

He added: “Since this incident occurred the expectation that he was going to jail has settled down.

“His family still support him. They tell me that they have seen a change in him.

“He is not living the lifestyle he was involving alcohol and other substances.”

Sheriff Mactaggart then had stern words of warning for the 23-year-old before he passed sentence.

He told Aitken: “That was a horrendous weapon that you were caught with. It could have caused serious damage to someone if not killed them.

“I am persuaded not to send him to custody but it is a very narrow decision.

“If you breach any part of this order, custody will be the only option.”

Sheriff Mactaggart then placed Aitken, of Gottries Road, on a community payback order.

Aitken will be under social work supervision for 12 months and will also be required to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.

He will also be required to remain within his home address between 7pm and 7am each day for the next three months following his hearing on Friday, February 23.