November 12th, 2009 02:41 PM
Jail time for turning in found shotgun (Merged)
Ex-soldier faces jail for handing in gun
Ex-soldier faces jail for handing in gun
Thursday, November 12, 2009, 10:30
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."
November 12th, 2009 02:45 PM
And yet another example of Britain seemingly going down the drain. Kind of unbelievable that the jury is so brainwashed as to see this as an ok thing to convict a guy for.
Fortes Fortuna Juvat
Former, USMC 0311, OIF/OEF vet
NRA Pistol/Rifle/Shotgun/Reloading Instructor, RSO, Ohio CHL Instructor
November 12th, 2009 02:47 PM
Why did he do such a thing?
Never mind being in England, even in America this would have been a stupid move.
Instead of calling to see if he could "pop in" without stating the _specifics_ of why he was coming by.
A better and more sensible idea would have been to call the cops immediately right then and say hey I was in my yard and I see this bin liner there that is not my own. I open it to find a gun and some shells. Could you please send help I think there might be a crime here.
Which of course it is a crime to possess as unlicensed and is a crime to discard firearms...In the UK and here in the US too.
Dude caused his own problems for not thinking before acting.
Further was he born yesterday? He's in the UK!!!
He very much should know better.
Now he'll have five years to think it over. :\
"Killers who are not deterred by laws against murder are not going to be deterred by laws against guns. " - Robert A. Levy
"A license to carry a concealed weapon does not make you a free-lance policeman." - Florida Div. of Licensing
November 12th, 2009 02:47 PM
Well that is just stupid. There really isn't anything else to say about this.
Just remember that shot placement is much more important with what you carry than how big a bang you get with each trigger pull.
Texas CHL Instructor
Texas Hunter Education Instructor
November 12th, 2009 02:49 PM
Wow... That is messed up!
Absolutely no common sense in the law there. The guy is gonna do five years only to realize that the law absolutely does not care if a kid found the weapon and injured or killed anyone. All the law wants to do is gig people anyway it can.
I mean, I certainly see Janq's point, and really agree with it. But still, some people just don't think things through the way everyone would like them to.
This man had a clear intention of getting a dangerous gun off the street! Because he wasn't "intellectual" enough to have let it lay and call the police, he's going to do five years in prison. So, he was ignorant and lacked some common sense... hell yeah, give him five years!
"The gun is the great equalizer... For it is the gun, that allows the meek to repel the monsters; Whom are bigger, stronger and without conscience, prey on those who without one, would surely perish."
November 12th, 2009 03:07 PM
He should have just kept it. I hate to see someone punished for trying to do the right thing even though there was a smarter way to do it. He didn't hurt anyone or try to and that should certainly be taken into account.
November 12th, 2009 03:37 PM
He won't be sentenced until Dec 11th so his fate remains to be seen. Hopefully common sense will prevail. He was outside the law and his actions were foolish but a 5 year sentence would not be appropriate in this case, even in the UK.
November 12th, 2009 03:43 PM
He should have just thrown it back over the wall and called it a day.
November 12th, 2009 03:48 PM
I can't believe he was convicted of thes, how stupid.
November 12th, 2009 04:20 PM
Meh...I don't care two farts worth....It's the crap across the pond.
I agree totally with Janq.
The only thing that's worth much from over there is going to a UK chat room and start chatting about how we saved thier booties in WWII...that ALWAYS get them going....good for a laugh or two also.
November 12th, 2009 04:52 PM
This is why I find "possession" laws generally unreasonable. Whether it is guns, weed, pics, prescription meds; antiquities items, ,money in large quantities, there are always going to be a few folks who will innocently come into possession.
Prosecutors, Judges, Jury members need to be looking at the whole story and the entire situation. In this instance, there was a concept mentioned which I am unfamiliar with and do not know if we have it here in the US or not--- the idea of something being non-defensible as a matter of law. I don't know how or if that is part of our system, and in any case certain cases would cry out for jury nullification. This one appears to one of those. (Of course I don't know if that can happen in the UK.)
Shameful outcome and I strongly disagree with Jang on this one. The guy was making a good faith effort to be a good citizen. He didn't even really use poor judgment. They might have levied the same charge even had he called them to his property--- as he was technically in possession by having the gun on his property; same as we would say someone possessed weed if they had it growing on their property.
November 12th, 2009 05:19 PM
I agree with Janq. He should have called and said "look what I found", and let the police do the rest.
That said, they should apply some common sense here and realize what was going on, and cut some slack.
"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch; Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote."
-- Benjamin Franklin
November 12th, 2009 05:24 PM
Sort of reminds me of the stories you read here in the USA about zero tolerance school districts. Official stupidity run amuck.
November 12th, 2009 05:57 PM
I would not have picked it up. But from what I have read it appears he had good intentions. Sounds like he was trying to be a good citizen and was completely caught off guard by what happened next. The thing I can't believe the most is that he has no defense. One would think that a jury would be more logical when considering the situation and circumstances.
I agree with Hopyard.
I lived in the UK for 5 years (father was a Pilot). During high school I realized that many of the laws there seemed bass ackwards. Always surpised me how easy it was to buy a realistic looking gun (replica). Seen the movie Snatch? When one guy points the Desert Eagle at another and calls him out on the replica stamp on the barrel. However, I though shotguns were legal for hunting. Sentence seems too harsh.
November 12th, 2009 06:05 PM
Well you should give a hoot,the crap across the pond is on it's way to you!
Originally Posted by Frogbones
Your liberals are very much in bed with ours, just look at how things are playing out in Washington...Where do you think they get their ideas from?? Not from their own limited wit I can tell you...No it's the whack jobs running the UK that fill their feeble minds of how they can control the people, how they can increase government control on even more of your life.
We have a saying over here " If its happening in the US it will be happening here before long"
Pretty sure this saying works both ways, be on your guard and do care about what happens here, if only to make sure it's not in your back yard next.
Tint Bob (UK)
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