Firearm Possession – Not Guilty verdict

Firearm charge dismissed

Police officers on patrol in January saw our client and his friend walking down a street. The police said they saw his friend throw something over a hedge and run away. The police recovered a revolver. Our client had made no attempt to escape. There was no evidence linking him to the gun such as DNA or fingerprints. Nevertheless our client was charged with Possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life, contrary to section 16 of the Firearms Act 1968, that he and his co-defendant had in their possession a five-shot revolver with intent to endanger life.

The minimum sentence for such an offence is 5 years imprisonment. Our clients account was straightforward. He did not know anything about the gun. We argued that the Defendant denied being in possession of the firearm in question at any time. We accepted the defendant being in the company of his co defendant at the material time but argued that he had no knowledge of any weapon.

We further argued, supported by an experts report that the firearm was not necessarily a firearm within the scope of the Act. In the alternative we argued that the firearm was incapable of being fired, could not be used to lethal effect, and therefore could not be used to endanger life. The experts opinion was that:

“It should be considered as an antique firearm, as outlined by Section 58(2) of the Act. Such revolvers are readily available to purchase from antique dealers”.

We pointed out that the Crown’s own expert says the gun was ancient, and ammunition for it was unavailable. The Crowns expert could not say whether it was even capable of firing, as he didn’t fire it. As a result of these arguments the allegation of “intent to endanger life” was withdrawn and the trial proceeded on the basis of possession of a prohibited weapon only. Our client gave evidence denying all knowledge that his co-defendant was in possession of a firearm. After a seven day trial the jury found our client not guilty.


Jamie Ritchie, Partner, Moss & Co
Jamie Ritchie conducted this case
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