Practice and Procedure

R v NORWOOD (2003)

PUBLISHED January 13, 2003

A sentence imposed for firearms offences was not excessive given the number of guns involved.Appeal by the defendant ('N'), aged 50, against sentence imposed on 15 October 2001 at Leicester Crown Court by Mr Recorder Pert QC. N was convicted following a plea of guilty, on two counts of possessing firearms without certificates and for possession and manufacture of a prohibited weapon. Sentences of three years on each count were imposed to run concurrently. N's estranged wife, reported to the police, that N had a firearm on a barge which he owned. The police forced entry to the barge by cropping a padlock and searched it. A total of four firearms and spent ammunition were found. N was charged with two counts of possession of firearms without certificates and possession and manufacture of a prohibited weapon. N told the police that the first gun belonged to someone else and that he was repairing it and the other gun had been shortened to enable him to shoot mink. N appealed on the grounds that: (i) a sentence of 3 years was excessive for a first offence where he had no criminal intent; (ii) insufficient account was taken of his plea of guilty;and (iii) the facts of the case were similar to R v Gent (2002) EWCA Crim 943 where a 3-year sentence for possession of firearms was reduced to 2 years.HELD (1) Whilst R v Gent(supra) concerned a middle-aged man of previous good character the facts were not similar enough to help N. In R v Gent, the appellant had previously held certificates and had held guns lawfully. The barrel of the gun in question had been shortened due to damage and the guns were securely locked away and hidden. (2) In the present appeal the two guns had both had the barrels shortened and N's explanations were inadequate. Only a padlock stood between the guns and those who might use them unlawfully for criminal purposes. (3) The judge was justified in taking a serious view of the offence. Unlawful possession of guns could not be tolerated and given the number of guns involved the sentence was not excessive.Appeal dismissed.