A SOUTHAMPTON gym boss obsessed with hit TV series The Walking Dead was caught with a barbed-wire bound baseball bat stored in the boot of her car.

Stacey De-Ste-Croix, boss of Spartans Gym, in Northam, was seen removing the “fearsome” weapon after crashing her Audi A3 in a drink-fuelled accident.

The bat, a replica of a weapon used by villain Negan in AMC’s zombie apocalypse series The Walking Dead, was taken away by a friend after the collision.

Daily Echo:

(Jeffrey Dean Morgan - who plays Negan in the Walking Dead)

But officers later tracked down the bat and arrested the 44-year-old, who was nearly two times the drink-drive limit – with a reading of 64 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath.

De-Ste-Croix, who was on a suspended sentence for a previous offensive weapon charge, was spared an immediate custodial sentence.

Southampton Crown Court heard how De-Ste-Croix was driving on December 23, when she crashed into a parked car near her home on Tickleford Drive, Weston.

Prosecutor Keely Harvey said how a neighbour, whose daughter owned the parked car, heard the bang and went outside to see what had happened.

The neighbour saw De-Ste-Croix, who was bleeding from her head, attempting to reverse the vehicle.

Prosecutor Keely Harvey said De-Ste-Croix got out of the car and was seen removing two weapons from the boot.

She said: “At this point the defendant pulls out a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire out of the car, as well as a black truncheon.

“She gave the weapons to her friend who walked off with them, while she returned to the car.

Daily Echo:

(The baseball bat bound in barbed wire which police seized from De-Ste-Croix)

“Police went and spoke to the friend, who said the weapons belonged to the defendant and took police to the address where they were and they were recovered.”

De-Ste-Croix was arrested for drink-driving and possession of an offensive weapon, which she later pleaded guilty to.

Ms Harvey said De-Ste-Croix told police that she received the bat as a Christmas present “because she liked The Walking Dead”.

She said: “The defendant told police she was a fan of The Walking Dead and one of the characters has one (a baseball bat) like it.”

Ms Harvey said how by having the weapon in public, De-Ste-Croix was in breach of a six month suspended sentence, imposed by Southampton Crown Court in 2017.

Defending, Jonathan Underhill said De-Ste-Croix had not threatened anyone with the weapon during the incident.

He said: “There was no suggesting or evidence in this case that the weapon was ever used or ever intended to cause any alarm or distress.”

He added that the weapon had never been used for protection, despite the mother-of-three initially making the claim in a police interview.

However the court heard the baseball bat had been used in promotional material for De-Ste-Croix’s personal training business.

Mr Underhill said in mitigation that De-Ste-Croix had a long-term history of alcohol abuse, anxiety and depression.

Daily Echo:

(Stacey Claffey aka De-Ste-Croix)

He added that De-Ste-Croix was a mother-of-three and jailing her would have a detrimental impact on her children – one of whom has complex learning issues.

Mr Underhill said the punishment for the offensive weapon charge in isolation would result in a community order, and urged Recorder Alexia Power not to activate the suspended sentence.

Judge Power said she was willing to give De-Ste-Croix another chance.

She said: “That baseball bat was a terrifying weapon which appears to have been copied from a fantasy television show.

“It is something which should never be found being carried on the streets or the roads of the United Kingdom.

“You have three children, two who live with you. You run a business and put a roof over the head of your children.

“I’m going to give you a second chance, they are rare.”

She added: “Do not glamorise weapons, they only cause misery.”

De-Ste-Croix was sentenced to an 18-month community order, including 180 hours of unpaid work and banned from driving for three years.