A defendant has received the mandatory minimum five year sentence at Durham Crown Court for offences including the possession of a prohibited weapon, being a taser disguised as a torch.
Amandeep Murria of Kangs Solicitors comments upon the possession of firearms, including a prohibited disguised weapon, and the imposition of the five year minimum prison sentence.
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The Relevant Law | Kangs Firearms Offences Defence Solicitors
The Firearms Act 1968 (‘the Act’)
Section 57 of the Act states that a firearm is ‘a lethal barrelled weapon of any description from which any shot, bullet or other missile can be discharged’ and includes any:
- prohibited weapon,
- component part of such a lethal or prohibited weapon; and
- accessory to any such weapon designed or adapted to diminish the noise or flash caused by firing the weapon.
The Act provides for the following offences:
- Section 1 – Possession of a firearm/specially dangerous air weapon and certain ammunition without a certificate;
- Section 2 – Possession of a ‘shotgun’ without a certificate;
- Section 5 – Possession of a prohibited weapon.
Requirements to show possession:
- Section 1(1) of the Act creates an absolute offence.
- The Prosecution only has to show that the defendant knew of possession of something and it is irrelevant what the defendant knew or thought what it actually comprised. There are a number of decided cases which illustrate this point:
- R v Hussain (1981) 72 Cr. App. R. 143
- R v Waller Crim. L.R. 1991, 381
- Sullivan v Earl of Caithness  62 Cr. App. R. 105).
- Possession is both proprietary and custodial.
Prohibited Disguised Weapon.
- Section 5(1A)(a) of the Act states that a disguised weapon is any firearm which is disguised as another object, e.g. pen guns, key fob guns and phone guns.
Sentencing | Kangs Firearm Offences Defence Team
The mandatory minimum five year sentence was introduced by section 287 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and applies:
- if the offence was committed on or after 22 January 2004 and the offender was aged 16, 17 or over 21 years of age when the offence was committed;
- the offence was committed on or after 28 May 2007 when the offender was aged 16 or over and is aged 18, 19 or 20 at the date of conviction.
- This mandatory minimum sentence does not apply to offenders who committed the offence before 28 May 2007 and were aged 18, 19 and 20 on the date of conviction
Exceptional Reduction Of Five Year Minimum Sentence | Kangs Serious Crime Solicitors
Only in exceptional circumstances can the Court consider reducing the minimum sentence having taken into account:
- the type of weapon involved
- whether or not a prohibited weapon (firearm) was used,
- the use, if any, of the prohibited weapon,
- the intention, if any, covering the possession of the prohibited weapon,
- the circumstances as a whole to ensure that the sentence passed which is neither arbitrary nor disproportionate.
How Can We Help? | Kangs Criminal Defence Solicitors
If any of the issues raised in this article affect you or you are concerned about your current predicament relating to any potential criminal investigation, it is advisable to seek early advice before you are contacted by any law enforcement agency.
We are experienced in:
- advising clients before any arrests are made,
- advising clients generally, if they have queries regarding any Criminal Law legislation,
- representing clients in interviews under caution with the law enforcement agencies,
- negotiating with the enforcement agencies to see if there are other penalties which can be imposed without having to go before the criminal courts,
- representation before any criminal court to include the instruction of the leading barristers in the country.
How Can I Contact You? | Kangs National Criminal Defence Solicitors
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