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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 April, 2005, 08:30 GMT 09:30 UK
Collector jailed over illegal gun
Mold Crown Court
Richards told Mold Crown Court he did not know he could fire the pistol
A collector of World War II memorabilia has been jailed for four years after a pistol which he had hung on a wall turned out to be a prohibited weapon.

David Elwyn Richards, 35, of Rhos, near Wrexham, said he had not realised the pistol could be fired and was illegal.

Police found the military-issue revolver and an air rifle, which he was banned from owning due to a previous jail sentence, during a search.

Richards had admitted possessing the weapons at Mold Crown Court.

They had been found at his parents' home in Johnstown, Wrexham, where he had previously lived, after police executed a search warrant.

Shotgun surrendered

Andrew Jebb, defending, told the court that Richards had put the pistol - a Webley Mark Four .445 calibre service revolver - in a drawer in his former bedroom because his new girlfriend had objected to it being on the wall.

He had not been in that room for about 10 months, Mr Jebb said.

The court also heard that Richards had neither realised the revolver was a prohibited weapon, nor that it could fire bullets.

He said his client would have handed into police when he had surrendered an old shotgun during a firearms amnesty.

Mr Jebb told the court that Richards had had the pistol for about six years.

He said it had been on the wall when police officers had visited the house in the past, but that none of them said there was anything wrong with the Richards having it.

The air rifle, which did not work, had been bought in the hope that Richards' son would use it as a hobby later in life, the barrister added.

'Exceptional circumstances'

Richards admitted possessing a prohibited weapon and possessing a semi-automatic air rifle within five years of his release from prison.

Judge John Rogers QC said the offences carried a minimum of five years' imprisonment but deemed there had been exceptional circumstances in Richards' case.

He reduced the sentences to four years to run concurrently.

"The overall purpose of this specific legislation is to reduce the number of firearms in circulation," said Judge Rogers.

"It does not matter for what purpose someone has possession of a prohibited weapon.

"In the end, I have to remember that Parliament has indicated a five year minimum and I can only go below that in exceptional circumstances.

"I go as low as I can but I cannot go lower than four years."



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