Jail for former TA Sergeant who had gun and ammo
Monday, February 20, 2012
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A FORMER Territorial Army Sergeant – who served for 18 years and completed a tour of duty in Afghanistan – has been jailed after admitting to firearms offences.
Grimsby Crown Court heard that John West, 48, of Cotswold Drive, Waltham, had admitted three offences – possession of 237 rounds of prohibited ammunition,
possession of a .22 Anschutz rifle without a certificate and possession of 4,877 rounds of other ammunition for a firearm without a certificate.
Philip Evans, prosecuting, told Grimsby Crown Court that the weapon and ammunition had been discovered during a police raid on West's home on September 20 last year.
The court also heard that the prohibited ammunition constituted 237 hollow-point rounds, which are designed to explode on impact.
Richard Butters, mitigating, described the case as a "storm in a tea cup", adding that West had found the cache of prohibited ammunition and the rifle in a car that had been presented for scrap, while working for the family business, some 18 years ago.
He told the court that West had been "unsure what to do" and had taken them home for "safe keeping" after which he simply "forgot" about them.
He added West was a hard working man, with no previous convictions, who lived for his wife of 21 years and their two sons.
The gun had been in three pieces and had a component missing when he found it – a state in which it had remained until it was seized by the police.
However, the court heard that when it was handed it over to a weapons expert, it was "easily" reassembled and fired.
In relation to the 4,877 rounds of other assorted ammunition, Mr Butters told the court West had been in possession of it for almost 30 years, first obtaining it when he was an 18 or 19-year-old member of a gun club.
He said: "When he had the ammunition originally, it was properly licensed. It has simply lapsed over the years.
"When he was 21 he joined the TA and was shooting less and less. He put the ammunition in a cupboard and simply forgot about it.
"Over the years it was never used, nor was it intended to be used."
Judge Jeremy Baker QC, said that while he did not believe West had intended to use the weaponry or that he was holding for someone else, it was still a "very serious matter".
Sentencing him to 16 months in custody – of which he will serve half, before being released on licence – Judge Baker said West was an "intelligent man" and should have been aware of the "real risk of harm" his "recklessness" could have led to if he had been burgled and the guns and ammunition had fallen into the hands of the "criminal community".
He also ordered that the weapon and ammunition be destroyed.
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. - Edmund Burke