Ex-soldier faces jail for handing in gun

#1
Be careful with what you find in your garden...

http://www.thisissurreytoday.co.uk/...nding-gun/article-1509082-detail/article.html

A former soldier who handed a discarded shotgun in to police faces at least five years imprisonment for "doing his duty".

Paul Clarke, 27, was found guilty of possessing a firearm at Guildford Crown Court on Tuesday – after finding the gun and handing it personally to police officers on March 20 this year.

The jury took 20 minutes to make its conviction, and Mr Clarke now faces a minimum of five year's imprisonment for handing in the weapon.

In a statement read out in court, Mr Clarke said: "I didn't think for one moment I would be arrested.

"I thought it was my duty to hand it in and get it off the streets."

The court heard how Mr Clarke was on the balcony of his home in Nailsworth Crescent, Merstham, when he spotted a black bin liner at the bottom of his garden.

In his statement, he said: "I took it indoors and inside found a shorn-off shotgun and two cartridges.

"I didn't know what to do, so the next morning I rang the Chief Superintendent, Adrian Harper, and asked if I could pop in and see him.

"At the police station, I took the gun out of the bag and placed it on the table so it was pointing towards the wall."

Mr Clarke was then arrested immediately for possession of a firearm at Reigate police station, and taken to the cells.

Defending, Lionel Blackman told the jury Mr Clarke's garden backs onto a public green field, and his garden wall is significantly lower than his neighbours.

He also showed jurors a leaflet printed by Surrey Police explaining to citizens what they can do at a police station, which included "reporting found firearms".

Quizzing officer Garnett, who arrested Mr Clarke, he asked: "Are you aware of any notice issued by Surrey Police, or any publicity given to, telling citizens that if they find a firearm the only thing they should do is not touch it, report it by telephone, and not take it into a police station?"

To which, Mr Garnett replied: "No, I don't believe so."

Prosecuting, Brian Stalk, explained to the jury that possession of a firearm was a "strict liability" charge – therefore Mr Clarke's allegedly honest intent was irrelevant.

Just by having the gun in his possession he was guilty of the charge, and has no defence in law against it, he added.

But despite this, Mr Blackman urged members of the jury to consider how they would respond if they found a gun.

He said: "This is a very small case with a very big principle.

"You could be walking to a railway station on the way to work and find a firearm in a bin in the park.

"Is it unreasonable to take it to the police station?"

Paul Clarke will be sentenced on December 11.

Judge Christopher Critchlow said: "This is an unusual case, but in law there is no dispute that Mr Clarke has no defence to this charge.

"The intention of anybody possessing a firearm is irrelevant."
 

mysteron

LE
Book Reviewer
#3
flamingo said:
With luck, the judge will see it for what it is, give an absolute discharge, (and rip the CPS a new asshole for wasting taxpayer's money then rip the constabulary a new one for wasting time and resources..
Here, fixed that for you......
 
#4
There seems to be very little national consistency with regards to the various Constabularies' views on the matter of handing in fire arms.

If this chap had lived in Suffolk he would have no problem nipping down to the station with the offending item.

I handed in a magazine and live ammunition at Belgravia Police station and the desk jockey didn't even take my name.
 
#5
If the facts are truly as presented above then what a waste of police and court time. The war against the law-abiding continues and the Chief Superindentent doesn't deserve a prefects badge. What a dismal episode.
 
#9
Something not quite right here....

Why did he ring a Chief Supernintendo and ask to "pop in and see him"? Surely he would have rung into a central Call centre, spoken to a call handler there and they would have advised him on what to do?

Had a similar job here the other day, someone rang up "Ive found a gun". Details taken, Firearms Officer sent out to make it safe and take the weapon away, Simples....

Not... "Ive found a gun"
"Oh Lovely Ill just put you through to the boss as im sure he normally deals with this sort of thing!"
"Yeah just walk around in Public on your way here with it and plonk it on my desk fella!"
"Righto, no dramas!"

If its as reported then its completely wrong and will seriously undermine the new "confidence programme" but as I say it just all seems a bit odd.
 
#10
See its stupid things like this that have completly eroded any faith or trust in the police for a significant percentage of decent people in society. I'm sure the vast number of police "officers" are decent people and the rank and file must be banging their heads against the wall when they see things like this happening for as much as its an easy cop and a tick in the box its also another nail in the coffin of police public trust.
 
#11
It's bit odd story..and of course runs amok among US gun nuts. Surprise there. :lol:
Lot of folks there seem to get wet downstairs when someone mentions weapon.

I thought to put it through filter of ARRSE. :p
 
#12
Prosecuting, Brian Stalk, explained to the jury that possession of a firearm was a "strict liability" charge – therefore Mr Clarke's allegedly honest intent was irrelevant.

Just by having the gun in his possession he was guilty of the charge, and has no defence in law against it, he added.
So if we all toddled down to Mr Stalks' gaff and dropped a few legitimately held weapons over his garden fence; then helpfully called the fuzz.... :twisted: 8)
 
#13
mysteron said:
flamingo said:
With luck, the judge will see it for what it is, give an absolute discharge, (and rip the CPS a new asshole for wasting taxpayer's money then rip the constabulary a new one for wasting time and resources..
Here, fixed that for you......
Thanks, I knew somebody would finish my...
 
#16
BiscuitsAB said:
See its stupid things like this that have completly eroded any faith or trust in the police for a significant percentage of decent people in society. I'm sure the vast number of police "officers" are decent people and the rank and file must be banging their heads against the wall when they see things like this happening for as much as its an easy cop and a tick in the box its also another nail in the coffin of police public trust.
And there you have it: somebody saw this as an easy win, a way of upping the Stats. and to Hell with concepts of common sense, wider public interest, natural justice and the danger of further alienation of the general public.

So it got thrown at the Court in the full and cynical knowlege that the most likely outcome would (or should) not be a custodial sentence, "only" somebody having the rest of their life fcuked up through a notional firearms conviction.

Unless of course the Home Secretary is pressured to step in, which sounds like a very good idea to me. Perhaps some kind soul might like to send the link to Mr Fawkes for a start.

Firearms offences
Exceptional Circumstances


R v Rehman and Wood [2005] EWCA Crim 2056

Legislation: s.51A Firearms Act 1968

"The court considered those factors which would amount to exceptional circumstances sufficient to justify not imposing the five year minimum sentence provided by this provision.

· The circumstances are exceptional for the purpose of this provision if it would mean that the imposition of five year’s imprisonment would result in an arbitrary and disproportionate sentence.

·
· It is necessary to look at all the circumstances involved and take a holistic approach, rather than dividing the circumstances into those that are capable of being exceptional and those that are not."


http://www.sentencing-guidelines.go...asp?T=Cases&catID=7&subject=FIREARMS OFFENCES
 
#17
When I was a kid my dad introduced me to the beat Copper to show me who to turn to if I needed help and that the Police were "our friends", when my son was old enough I managed to find a Copper walking about and introduced him for the same reasons. My son has not and will not be doing the same because as he sees it the Police stopped being "our friends" a few years ago. This sort of stupidness just re-enforces how out of touch the Police have become.
 
#20
some years ago the wife was taking a class of kids round the park in gunchester and found a pistol under a bush, called manchesters finest on the mobile who asked "if she could be a love and pop it in at the station on the way home"!
 

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