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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 November 2007, 15:23 GMT
Man faces prison over gun hobby
Jeremy Couchman said he was interested in the US Civil War
A man has been convicted at Exeter Crown Court of importing firearms through a US website.

Jeremy Couchman, 53, was told he faces a minimum of five years in prison after being convicted of possessing a prohibited .38 Smith & Wesson revolver.

The bus driver from Torquay, Devon, was told he faced the sentence unless he fell within an exception allowing the judge to pass a lesser sentence.

He was also convicted of a further six charges and acquitted of 10.

There is no way I want to go to jail for a hobby I was interested in
Jeremy Couchman

Judge Ian Leeming QC requested a pre-sentence report and adjourned sentencing to 21 December. Couchman's bail was extended.

Couchman, who had pleaded not guilty to all the charges, was also convicted by the jury of attempting to purchase 50 .410 Rimfire cartridges, possessing without authority two copy revolvers and two copy rifles, and possessing a shotgun without a certificate.

He was acquitted of 10 charges of possessing prohibited firearms - seven revolvers, two pistols and a double-barrelled Derringer handgun.

Couchman, whose father was a Royal Marine sniper in World War II, told the jury during the six-day trial that he was interested in the US Civil War and the West.

Kidney condition

He told the court that he contacted the Joe Salter weapons and accessories website in the US via the internet, and understood from the section on antiques that everything over 100-years-old was antique and no certificate was required.

He said he bought all the weapons, apart from the Derringer, from the Salter site, and never wanted to buy ammunition, only the box it came in.

Couchman said: "I went to this site because I wanted to feel safe. There is no way I want to go to jail for a hobby I was interested in."

His brother Mark Couchman said his brother had a kidney disease and his lungs were in poor condition.

"He could well die in jail with this," he said.

He said his brother was a "good and gentle man and a useful citizen who has been brought down by his hobby".


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