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    Ex-soldier to be jailed for handing in gun

    by Rumbold on 14th November, 2009 at 8:02 pm    

    Paul Clarke, an ex-soldier, is likely to be jailed for at least five years after he found a shotgun and handed it into the police. The jury found him guilty and the judge pointed out that anyone in possession of a gun, even if they had rung up the police station and told them they were bringing it in, as happened in this case, would face the same sentence.

    If all the facts have been revealed, then this is a chilling failure of the common sense principle of the law. Laws should not be discarded on a whim, but a functioning society recognises that in some cases there is a technical breach of the law, but clearly not a breach of the spirit. To deal with such cases, society puts in place various systems. The Crown Prosecution Service isn’t obliged to prosecute, and juries are not obliged to convict. This system failed in this case. As an ex-soldier, Mr. Clark would have had extensive firearms training, and so would have been able to handle the weapon safely. There was no account of him using the weapon to threaten anyone, and he alerted the police to his intentions. He also removed the weapon from a place where others could have stumbled upon it. In short, he exercised his common sense, and is now likely to go to jail for years.

    (Via: Devil’s Kitchen)

    Sunny update: Jack of Kent has a very measured and interesting response to this.

    But on the narrow point as to whether that possessing a shotgun - and taking that shotgun through the streets (even if to a police station) - should be unlawful, then I think it should be.

    It was not his civic duty to take a shotgun and ammunition through the streets of a Surrey town.

            Post to del.icio.us

    Filed in: Civil liberties

    23 Comments below   |   Add your own

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs
    1. In Surrey, finding and then handling a gun means jail « Lightwater

      [...] case has kicked up a real storm in the blogosphere, with Pickled Politics, Liberal Conspiracy and Devil’s Kitchen all rightly [...]

    1. MaidMarian — on 14th November, 2009 at 11:12 am  

      Odd one this. I can understand that it is not incumbent on someone to walk through the streets with a loaded shotgun. I certainly would not say it was common sense for him to do so. To that extent, yes guns are a licensed thing and motive does not matter.

      Having said that, I am sturuggling to see where the public interest in this particular prosecution is.

      I would hope that the sentence (5 years is the maximum, not automaitc looking at the links) reflects that.

    2. magnetite — on 14th November, 2009 at 11:41 am  

      I certainly wouldn't want to unload it, assuming that whoever dumped it left their prints on the cartridges when they loaded it. You'd think the police would appreciate that kind of helpfulness, both on my part and that of the weapon's real owner.

    3. Don — on 14th November, 2009 at 1:19 pm  

      This is very odd. He kept it overnight, apparently asked to see a specific senior officer without saying why, then plonked it on a desk. The link certainly gives the impression that he did not tell the police why he wanted to meet the CS.

      How would you not just call the cops and say, 'There's a gun my garden. Come and get it.'? I think there is more to this.

    4. Fojee Punjabi — on 14th November, 2009 at 2:57 pm  


      This is the result of Labour being in power for 12 years- do you expect any better when those idiots are still in charge?


      Unfortunately I have the displeasure of knowing some policemen from the Metropolitan Police and can tell you that they are dirtier than the so-called criminals themselves so I for one would rather call The Boys than call Dem Babylon dem, yage'me?

    5. Rumbold — on 15th November, 2009 at 2:07 am  

      Fojee Punjabi:

      Nope. I don't expect any better.


      Perhaps he shouldn't have taken the loaded gun to the station. But on available evidence, as you say, there was no public interest in prosecuting him.

    6. Don — on 15th November, 2009 at 3:06 am  

      I for one would rather call The Boys than call Dem Babylon dem, yage'me?

      Not really. What point are you trying to make? That he shouldn't have called the law when he found a sawn-off?

    7. Kulvinder — on 15th November, 2009 at 3:13 am  

      Assuming its all been reported accurately, and to be frank you never know, it was an idiotic prosecution and an utterly utterly moronic conviction from the jury.

      Aside from all that i find the argument that 'he was carrying a GUN in a PUBLIC place without a LICENSE' utterly hilarious and just the kind of emotive nonsense that other nations laugh at when commenting about our gun laws.

      How would it have been any 'safer' for the public if he'd filled in a stupid form and got it blue ink stamped before handing the gun in?

      Its the same idiocy that drives things like the ISA; just because you've followed the bureaucratic paper trail doesn't mean the risk has suddenly vanished. But perhaps thats what went wrong with Jean Charles de Menezes or those cases where the police end up shooting each other and civilians during training; they hadn't filled out their form properly and ipso facto someone got shot.

    8. Fojee Punjabi — on 15th November, 2009 at 3:34 am  

      Erm… no… he did attempt to contact a policeman he actually trusted- the point I was making was that he's been jipped because he did the right thing and as Rumbold so eloquently alluded to- the spirit of the law has been renounced.

      Stop trying to be an intellectual bully, Dalbir, because you're slowly becoming more of a dickhead with each post of yours.

    9. douglas clark — on 15th November, 2009 at 4:10 am  

      To the extent we have been told the true story:

      It seems wrong to me for either the commentators here or indeed the judge in this case to question the chaps actions. He appears to have acted in our interests, having taken a gun off the streets, as it were.

      I do not agree with Jack of Kents' rather narrow and legalistic ideas of whether an offence has been commited or not, nor do I think any of this is in the public interest.

      Just saying….

    10. Dalbir — on 15th November, 2009 at 4:11 am  

      What are waffling on about now?

      I for one would rather call The Boys than call Dem Babylon dem, yage'me?

      Are you for real? No, let me guess you're a Southall rudebwoy……and ting

      Do you wander about with your jeans hanging off your arse…..bwoy…..you get me….

      Try and respond with some form of argument in future instead of this type of thing:

      Stop trying to be an intellectual bully, Dalbir, because you're slowly becoming more of a dickhead with each post of yours.

      Earlier you were crying about people not debating you. Having read your shite, I'm not surprised. Try something more than than playground style insults. If you can't manage this, let me know.

    11. marvin — on 15th November, 2009 at 6:11 am  

      Despicable outcome. This case really shows the moral ineptitude of the general public. It rings of the Milgram experiment. A person of authority states it is absolutely essential that you continue to electrocute this person…. And so they do. Stupid, stupid, twats.

    12. marvin — on 15th November, 2009 at 6:12 am  

      Jack of Kent has no civic duty to talk shit. He should therefore be locked up.

    13. Jookymundo — on 15th November, 2009 at 4:14 pm  

      lol, dump firearms in the gardens of everyone who served in afghanistan and iraq, and we'll have a bit of justice.

    14. platinum786 — on 16th November, 2009 at 1:47 am  

      lol, unbeleiveable.

    15. Fojee Punjabi — on 16th November, 2009 at 1:48 pm  


      No I am not but you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, mate.

      Anyhoo, I was never complaining about a lack of debate it's just that you have this idea in your head that by someone feeling as if you have 'won' an argument it means the end of a debate.

      Well I'm here to tell you to stop being so egotistical and put your ego to one side and argue with logic rather than with hyperbole.

      Come back at me now, bitch…

    16. Dalbir — on 16th November, 2009 at 2:28 pm  

      it's just that you have this idea in your head that by someone feeling as if you have 'won' an argument it means the end of a debate.

      No, that is exactly what you do.

      PS - Your mum done a crappy job raising you Mr. Potty Mouth.

    17. Charlie Bronson — on 17th November, 2009 at 9:33 am  

      All you need to understand here is that common purpose is at work. Law abiding citizens are the enemy. Just don't talk to the police. Don't even look at them. Certainly do not associate with them for they are ostensibly civil enforcement officers for the corporation. We are officially at war.

    18. Don — on 17th November, 2009 at 9:50 am  

      You are officially a fool.

    19. Fojee Punjabi — on 17th November, 2009 at 10:37 am  


      Well done. You won. Enjoy your glory.


    20. RevdAstairCarnegie — on 18th November, 2009 at 3:14 am  

      I anticipate this will cause a great deal of work for the Royal Military Police, (I serve as one of their Chaplains) The lads are very upset, It is highly probable that all those responsible for Paul Clarke's prosecution, from the Judge downward, will have their lives made an abject misery, following criminal damage to their property, e.g. cement down their drains, cars sabotaged at filling and service stations, with perhaps a dollop of diamond bort + vaseline stuffed up the petrol filler nozzle. (smoke out of the exhaust within 50 miles!) etc. etc. It will be very hard to locate the culprits, as the entire military are incenced and outraged. The way to end this, is to have the case quashed! expediently!

    21. securityscene — on 13th December, 2009 at 9:29 am  

      It seems obvious that what this man needed to do was, pick up the phone and call 999, advise them that he had found a shot gun and wait a few minutes for it to be picked up, likely by firearms offices trained to make it safe.

      The gun may have been used in a murder or other crime and should have been left as undisturbed as possible. This to allow police to check for evidence that could be crucial to solve a case - now contaminated and four days late!

      There is no licence that this man or any civilian could have had to carry this gun as I belive it was a sawn off shot gun which is illegal for anyone to own.

      This man also shouldn't have waited 4 days to take in the weapon. During his initial phone call he should have made the police aware of what he had found so that they could make arrangements for the safe retrieval and give him advice on how to proceed.

      You have to ask what he was doing with the gun for 4 days?

      I don't think he should get 5 years, bit much but this man obiously has no common sense.


    22. MiriamBinder — on 13th December, 2009 at 11:44 am  

      Well said security scene.

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