Deing v Tarola was a 1993 case that showed how courts interpret statutes in relation to the definition of the Weapons Act.
Deing was wearing a black leather belt with raised studs, and was subsequently apprehended by police for possession of a weapon. The Magistrates’ Court convicted him of the crime of possessing a weapon, after which, he appealed to the Supreme Court. The appeal examined section six of the Weapons Act, stating that “A person must not possess, carry or use any regulated weapon without lawful excuse” which was followed by a list of regulated weapons.
Whether a studded belt is a “regulated weapon”
Whether wearing a studded belt is a “lawful excuse” for possession
The Supreme Court Justice looked at dictionary definitions and past cases to assist in its interpretation of the statute. The court ultimately decided that a studded belt is not, in itself, a weapon, although it may be used as a weapon. Deing had a “lawful excuse” for possessing the belt, as it was used to hold up his pants. As such, he did not intend to use it as a weapon.
Therefore, it set a precedent. It clarified the Weapons Act by stating that a studded belt is not a weapon when used for its intended purpose, but may become one if an offender intended to use it as a weapon.
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