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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 August 2007, 16:22 GMT 17:22 UK
Man cleared over flare launcher
A father who spent eight months in custody after a military flare launcher was found at his home has been cleared of possessing an unauthorised firearm.

The small pen-shaped item can launch potentially fatal burning missiles, the Old Bailey heard.

The 48-year-old from Eltham, south-east London, known only as Mr Ahmet, said he confiscated the item from his son who bought it at a car boot sale for 6.

Jon Whitfield, for the defence, argued it was not a "lethal barrelled weapon".

Anti-terrorist police found the 16mm mini flare launcher when they raided Mr Ahmet's home in September last year.

Jurors heard how the remote-control sized device could hold eight cartridges containing "dangerous inflammable chemicals".

"The missile can bed itself into the skin of your body and continue burning until it burns itself out," said Paul Taylor, prosecuting. "That missile can kill you."

'No recognised purpose'

But Mr Ahmet told the court: "Had I known it had that kind of effect, it would have been thrown away, disposed of."

Jurors were shown similar types of flare launchers used by mountaineers and sailors to send distress signals.

But Mr Taylor told the court: "Mr Ahmet is not a sailor on the Solent. He is not somebody who had this item for a recognised purpose."

In the absence of the jury, the court heard that the house where Mr Ahmet lived and which was raided was also occupied by other people.

Also found there was an "amount of jihadist material" and the Anarchist's Cookbook, which contains bomb-making recipes, as well as camouflage trousers and paintball guns.

The jury cleared Mr Ahmet of the charge of possessing a firearm without a certificate after his defence barrister Jon Whitfield argued the device was not a "lethal barrelled weapon" as defined in the legislation.

Outside court Mr Ahmet said he had to spend eight months in Belmarsh Prison despite being a single parent with five children.

"Justice has been served because I felt I was hard done by," he said. "It is over. I am really, really happy."

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