A man was found to be in possession of a knife after an argument between travellers and the homeless community at the old Groves school.

Police were called to the former school in Powell Road, Wrexham, at about 5pm on August 15 after an argument broke out between young members of the travelling community in Wrexham and people at the homeless camp which has been set up there.

James William Purcell, 25, of Ruthin Road, Wrexham, was one of those present at the time the police arrived.

The scene was described as chaotic and there were lots of people shouting – it was not clear exactly what had happened other than there had been an altercation.

Purcell was one of two men standing on the pavement nearby and was approached by officers, who had been given information that he was in possession of a knife.

He appeared to be worried and was visibly panicking and nervous at the prospect so officers restrained Purcell’s hands to prevent him reaching into his pockets.

He admitted to being in possession of a knife and told police it was given to him by one of his friends, adding he forgot it was there.

Purcell told them: “It’s blunt – you couldn’t stab a goldfish with it.”

The blade of the knife was 2.5 inches long.

Purcell was arrested and taken to the police station, where he told them he had been called to the Groves to take the younger travellers away from the altercation and back home.

He realised he still had his fishing knife in his trousers and would have left it at home if he had known.

Appearing before Wrexham Magistrates’ Court, Purcell pleaded guilty to being in possession of a knife in a public place.

He has five previous convictions for six offences, the last one dating back to 2014.

Andy Holliday, defending, said Purcell left school at the age of 14 and had been “drifting along” since then, having never had a job and currently without anywhere permanent to stay.

There had been some conflict between people at the Groves site and Purcell was there simply to try and break the situation up.

He completely forgot about the knife in his pocket.

Magistrates imposed a 12-month community order with 180 hours of unpaid work and a five-day rehabilitation activity requirement.

A destruction order was made in respect of the knife and Purcell was ordered to pay £85 costs as well as an £85 victim surcharge.