Disguised Firearm Charge – Exceptional circumstances applied
Possession of a disguised firearm is an offence for which the the minimum sentence is 5 years in prison. Therefore it is crucial that the defence team show exceptional circumstances so that a lesser sentence can be passed.
Moss & Co represented a young man of previous good character charged with possession of a disguised firearm contrary to s5(1A)(a) of the Firearms Act 1968. The police found a stun gun torch in his bedroom when they searched his home address. Our client said that he had bought a job lot of tools for his own use including the torch. He was not aware at any stage that the torch was actually a stun gun capable of discharging high voltage electricity and he was only charging it to use as a torch.
We obtained a report from a firearms expert. Fortunately the expert said that because: “the exhibit will perform the expected function of a torch in addition to being stun gun …it is not disguised as a torch because it is a torch”. Not Guilty pleas were entered.
Settling a criminal case
Our client had a clear defece. However it was important to make sure that he did not go to prison for 5 years. When the Court case took place there was expert evidence and extensive legal argument over a whole day. We negotiated a set of agreed admissions with the prosecution. These included:
- the stun gun element of the “torch” was not working and the torch element did work
- our client was unaware that the item had a stun gun function
- item had never been used as a stun gun
- defendant bought the item as part of a job lot
- an “undisguised” stun gun would not attract the the minimum 5 year sentence
Our client then pleaded guilty to possession of the basis of the admissions. These admissions were then put forward as exceptional circumstances for not applying the minimum sentence.
The judge found that because of the exceptional circumstances admissions we had negotiated he did not have to impose the 5 year minimum prison sentence and instead could impose a community order with unpaid work.
Jamie Ritchie (Solicitor) and George Gross (Higher Court Advocate) conducted this case.