Gun enthusiast who posted fox head pic online loses court bid for return of firearms licences

Crown Court

Crown Court

A pro-hunting gun enthusiast who put a picture of a fox head on the internet lost a court bid for the return of his gun licences.

Mark Lowery posted the picture on his Facebook page to 'spark debate' with the anti-hunting lobby.

The picture was captioned: "Dear antis, you are warned, love, Mark," Teesside Crown Court heard.

The picture sparked lots of replies, many of which were threatening and abusive.

Sergeant Gary Hatton, of Cleveland Police, told the court: "He brought the threats upon himself through his own irresponsibility.

"He probably got more than he bargained for."

The incident was the last in a series which prompted police to withdraw Lowery's licences.

In 2010, Lowery went to a meeting with a tenant over unpaid rent while carrying one of his guns.

And on Christmas Eve, 2014, he posted a picture on the internet of a gun pointing up a chimney with the caption: "Bring it on, you fat burglar."

Lowery, 45, of Hart Village, Hartlepool, told the court the picture was a joke, and the incident with the tenant had been blown out of proportion.

Cleveland Police's deputy chief constable Iain Spittal said: "He is the type of individual to behave in an irresponsible manner, and this gave me concern for the safety of the public.

"It is the duty of the police to protect people from harm, and on this basis it is not appropriate for him to continue to have ready access to firearms."

Judge Simon Bourne Arton, sitting with two magistrates, refused Lowery's appeal.

The judge said he accepted Lowery behaved responsibly while shooting his guns, but a gun holder had to be responsible at other times as well.

"We agree with the assessment of the deputy chief constable," said the judge.

Lowery was ordered to pay £2,500 towards the costs of the appeal.