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Former Soldier Faces Fives Years Jail For Gun He Found And Handed To Police

bad-lawsTO Guildford Crown Court, where Paul Clarke, 27 is being found guilty of possessing a firearm, having found it in his garden and taken it to the police station.

Says Mr Clarke says:

“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.”

In his original statement, Mr Clark said of his dealings with Reigate police station:

“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.”

At which point Mr Paul Clarke was arrested, charged with the possession of a firearm and marched off to the cells by an officer Garnett.

In court, Mr Clarke’s brief, a Mr Lionel Blackman, puts it to Mr Garnett:

“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?”

Mr Garnett: “No, I don’t believe so.”

Up pops prosecuting brief, Brian Stalk, to tell the jury that possession of a firearm is a “strict liability” charge. Mr Clarke is guilty. End of. No debate. Send the man down. Ruin his life. Go on.

Mr Lionel Blackman then tells one and all:

“This is a very small case with a very big principle.

It is a matter of principle. This is how lawyers earn their fees as people traipse in to the well appointed chambers to say that it’s the principal that matters. Says Mr Blackman, who is a decent sort:

“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?”

Well, it would seem so, yes. Better to commit a crime with the gun and take your chances. Mr Clarke faces a minimum of five year’s imprisonment for handing in the weapon.

Paul Clarke will be sentenced on December 11. And the law is always right.

Judge Christopher Critchlow sums up:

“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.”

To put the tin lid on this, Mr Clarke is a former soldier.

Posted: 13th, November 2009 | In: Strange But True | Comments (7)