Burglar arrested after trying to sell stolen gun on Facebook

David Mole.
David Mole.

A man who stole an arsenal of shotguns and rifles was arrested after trying to sell one of the guns on Facebook.

David Mole was drunk and carrying a loaded shotgun when plain clothes police stopped him in the street.

The case was heard at Teesside Crown Court.

The case was heard at Teesside Crown Court.

Mole had advertised the gun on Facebook and was on his way to show it to a prospective buyer, Teesside Crown Court heard.

The guns were taken in an earlier burglary, said prosecutor Phillip Morley.

Mole knew where the guns were kept because his partner, Laura Atkinson, was previously in a relationship with the owner of the guns.

“They were lawfully kept by a private citizen,” said Mr Morley.

“Ms Atkinson knew the guns were there, and she had permission to visit the house after the relationship ended.

“On the day of the burglary, the owner and his children had left the house for the day.

“When they returned, it became apparent someone had been in the house, although there was no sign of forced entry.

“A gun cabinet had been drilled and broken into.

“Two rifles and four shotguns, valued at £7,500, had been taken.”

The court heard a safe containing £500 cash had also been broken into.

Mr Morley added: “Police became aware of a gun being offered for sale via a Facebook account linked to Mole.

“When he was arrested leaving his house, Mole appeared drunk and was carrying a loaded shotgun with the safety catch set to ‘fire’.

“The other guns stolen in the burglary were found in his house.”

Mole, 33, of Uppingham Street, Hartlepool, admitted burglary, possessing a loaded firearm in public, and possession of unlicensed firearms between October 10 and 13.

Atkinson, of Buckingham Avenue, Hartlepool, admitted theft on October 10.

Rachel Dyson, for Mole, said: “He foolishly saw this burglary as a chance to make quick money.”

Andrew Teate, for Atkinson, said she has no relevant previous convictions, and is the carer of her two children.

Judge Howard Crowson jailed Mole for three years and four months. Atkinson was given a sentence of 27 weeks, suspended for 12 months, and 80 hours of community work.

The judge said Mole was “prepared to sell the guns to someone who very likely was also not lawfully allowed to hold them, and when you were stopped it was in very dangerous circumstances.”