A contestant on the new series of The Apprentice was convicted of possessing a knuckleduster just weeks before filming began, it emerged today.
Former Royal Marine Christopher Farrell, 28, was arrested after the weapon and a baton were found in the glove box of his Mercedes.
Police were called to his home in February 2009 following allegations he had hit his wife, causing a wound and drawing blood.
Officers in Plymouth, Devon, then searched his car and found the knuckleduster and an extendible baton in a front compartment.
He was not charged with any assault on his wife but pleaded guilty to two charges of possessing an offensive weapon at Plymouth Crown Court in September 2009, just before Apprentice filming started.
Farrell said the weapons were ‘trinkets’ from his forces days but Judge Francis Gilbert rejected the claims and gave him a two-year conditional discharge and £847 costs.
Despite the court appearance he hid his past from the BBC and a Criminal Records Bureau check failed to highlight the conviction.
He filmed the latest Apprentice series – due to start next week – but bosses say they are unable to contact him because he is abroad.
A spokesman for Talkback Thames, which makes The Apprentice, said it had run a criminal record bureau (CRB) check on Farrell.
But he said it had been carried out in August 2009 – a month before he appeared before the judge.
He said the company is now trying to contact Mr Farrell, who served as a sniper in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo during his ten year career.
The spokesman said: ”We carry out police CRB checks on all candidates during the Apprentice application process, in common with standard television industry practice.
”The CRB checks, which were conducted in late August 2009, revealed no irregularities for any of the candidates for the upcoming series. Candidates are asked to disclose any criminal convictions as part of their application.
”This court case was not disclosed on Chris Farrell’s application form and he has not at any point brought this matter to our attention. He is currently abroad and we have been unable to contact him this afternoon.”
During his court appearance prosecutor Paul Frost said police acting on a phone call visited Farrell’s home and waited for him to arrive, before searching the vehicle.
Farrell said that he had bought the baton in the USA and acquired the knuckleduster in 2001 in Afghanistan, but had never used either.
Judge Gilbert asked whether Farrell had been prosecuted for assaulting his wife, but was told that no official complaint had been made.
The court heard he had been bought out of his partnership as a financial services adviser and was about to start a new job.
Speaking in court, Nick Lewin, for Farrell, said the weapons were in the car for ”storage”.
But Judge Gilbert said: ”You don’t store things like that in your car. I don’t believe your explanation that this was a convenient place to store trinkets, or that you never used them.
”Your wife complained that you hit her when you lost your temper. Knuckledusters and batons have only one purpose, and that is to cause injury.”
The judge handed down a conditional discharge and then warned him that he would face jail if he were caught with weapons again.
Farrell, of Tamerton Foliot near Plymouth, is now thought to be abroad after filming was completed for the show.
The mortgage broker claims to ”show no emotion, likes to be pushed and not afraid to give people a kick up the backside”.
He told BBC chiefs: ”I’ve been to the other side of things where friends lose legs and lose limbs, so I know I’m lucky to be where I am.
”I was a sniper in the Royal Marines and I take that killer instinct across into business.”
The keen golfer and fitness fanatic is hoping to win the £100,000 top prize in the popular show.
A statement from the BBC said: ”Talkback Thames’ selection process is in line with the BBC’s policy to make appropriate checks on all contributors and contestants.
”The BBC asks for any information relevant including criminal convictions and makes a case by case judgement based on the information provided, the nature of the given programme and the nature of the information divulged.”