A WITNESS in a theft case was caught with a knuckleduster as she turned up to give evidence, a court heard.

Former pub landlady Krista Campbell, who used to run the Bitterne Park Hotel, was found with a purple and green knuckleduster when security checked her bag during a routine inspection at Southampton Magistrates’ Court.

Magistrates’ heard yesterday that Campbell, who now works at Nisa, initially claimed the weapon was memorabilia she bought from a nearby shop before entering court on August 1.

The weapon was confiscated by security and the authorities notified.

But after she was later contacted by police, Campbell said the item had been in her bag “since March or April”.

Prosecuting, Ryan Seneviratne told the court Campbell, 30, arrived at court as a witness in a theft hearing.

Mr Seneviratne added: “This is a serious matter.

“It is so serious that items like knuckledusters are classed as a weapon because they have only one purpose.

“It’s not like carrying around with you a screwdriver.

“This is something that was brought to the court without any good reason.”

The court heard that Campbell had begun collecting comic book memorabilia, including items belonging to characters such as Harley Quinn, Batman and the Joker.

Mitigating, Eve Shelley told the court Campbell kept the weapon in her bag as she “didn’t want her children to have it or damage it”.

She said that Campbell worked between 48 and 60 hours a week to support her four children, which left her leading “a chaotic lifestyle”.

Miss Shelley added Campbell was unaware a knuckleduster was even a weapon.

Last year, the Daily Echo told how Campbell was forced to leave the Cobden Avenue pub when police arrived to move her on from the premises.

Campbell, of Water Lane, Totton, was fined £300. She was ordered to pay £50 costs and a £30 victim surcharge.

An order was made to destroy the knuckleduster.