A MAN who was banned from keeping guns after being released from prison was caught with an air rifle which he claimed he used for “target practice”.
Trevor George Hallcup had served three months of a 10-month prison sentence for offences of fraud and was told that he would be prohibited from having a firearm for five years from his release.
But when police went to speak to the 27 year old about some motoring matters they mentioned to him a tip-off they had been given about him being in possession of a gun, Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court heard.
The information proved correct and police discovered he had a Webley Valuemax spring-powered air rifle with a scope, that Hallcup had bought from JF Gent Firearm and Fishing Tackle, in York Road.
Prosecuting, Chris Atkinson said: “The defendant was jailed for 10 months in August 2010 and was released in the November of that year. He was not permitted to purchase a firearm of any description for a period of five years from his release.
“Police spoke to him on August 20 about some road traffic matters and told him they had information about him being in possession of a firearm and that proved to be correct.
“Possession of that puts him in breach of the five-year prohibition.”
Hallcup, of Raby Road, Hartlepool, appeared before justices and pleaded guilty to being in possession of a firearm when prohibited for five years on August 20.
Mitigating, Adrian Morris said there was nothing sinister in his client having the gun and only bought it because he misunderstood the terms of the gun ban.
“Had there been anything sinister about possession of this gun then it wouldn’t be dealt with by this court it would be sent to the crown court,” he said.
“Shortly before the police’s visit, my client had gone into Gent’s, in York Road, and purchased this item and carried it away in a bag in broad daylight.
“He bought it for target practice as his friend has a field, a private piece of land. He only used it a couple of times and that’s what it was used for.”
Mr Morris said the law states that anyone sentenced to between three months and three years in prison is prohibited from having a gun for five years. As Hallcup was released three months into his 10-month sentence he wrongly believed he fell outside the ban.
He added: “There was his mistake. That’s what you are dealing with today.”
Chairman of the bench Janet Henderson ordered that the weapon be destroyed, and sentenced Hallcup to a six-month community order with an eight-week curfew requirement from 8pm-7pm.