Britain - Ex-Soldier Faces Jail for Handing in Gun



An example of Great Britain’s gun law insanity. Original article

Surrey Mirror (UK)
November 13, 2009


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."



My dear, dear friends across the pond, please take back your country before it’s lost forever. This is madness.

James, USA

Ever seen the movie "V for Vendetta"? I don’t think the England of today is very far from being the England portrayed in such. I really feel for the English populace. When will the breaking point be reached when they’ll say "enough is enough" of this craziness?! Probably never- as to do this the whole population would have to be in one accord at the polls to oust those that are an enemy to free Englishmen. It’ll never happen so long as everyone goes to work, gets a paycheck and is able to listen to their favorite tunes on their iphone and buy some overpriced coffee. Ah, the safety of modern life.

RD Mercer, Oklahoma

To all you Americans on here - mind your own business and get you own house in order first. A country which allows mass slaughter in schools to happen on a regular basis has no right to judge our laws.

And for all you that left Britain - concentrate on your adopted country - you have no right to comment on us anymore.

As for Paul Clarke - he DID NOT do the right thing. He should have rung the police then and there and got firearms to collect it - not try to be some hero and stupidly carry the gun in public. Why not explain to the Chief Constable on the phone?

The law is the law and he is guilty of possessing a firearm in public. If his "doing his duty" plea had been accepted and he had been acquitted then it would have set a dangerous precedent in law that would be exploited by defence lawyers of gun criminals and gun toting gang members.

Anyone caught with a gun could then claim they “were doing their duty” intending to bring it into the police station,

Clarke is a victim of his own vanity, not the law. Du Espionage, London

Mr Clarke is not guilty. This could have happened to anyone and to be honest I am pleased to have a man as honest as Mr Clarke in this world. What the jury are saying is that because he picked up the gun he is guilty where as if it was an elderly or young person they would be guilty as well. What would have happened if it was a child and they got killed because someone was not honest enough to report the weapon to the police. As Mr Clarke has been in the armed forces it makes sense for him to take in himself. This action is called be reponsible adult and considerate. I know young children in that area and glad that it was not one of them to be hurt by this weapon. Why convict a man for saving lives to be honest?

Kirsty Fleming, Redhill


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