Hartlepool man jailed after imported weapon seized at Heathrow

The case was heard at Teesside Crown Court
The case was heard at Teesside Crown Court

A dad-of-one who tried to import a potentially lethal stun gun has been jailed for 16 months.

James Flounders was found with another illegal weapon - a friction lock baton - when police arrested him.

Flounders refused to say why he wanted the weapons, Teesside Crown Court heard.

“A package addressed to the defendant was intercepted at Heathrow airport by the Borders Agency,” said Harry Hadfield, prosecuting.

“It was found to contain a combined torch and stun gun, which qualifies as a disguised firearm in the terms of the legislation.

“Police went to arrest Flounders at his home in Hartlepool.

“During the search of that property, officers found a friction lock baton of the type commonly used by police.”

The court heard Flounders took part in a conversation on Facebook in which he asked about buying ‘cattle prods’.

“Flounders said he ordered the stun gun for £14 over the internet,” added Mr Hadfield.

“He said he used the same website he had used two years earlier to buy the baton.”

Flounders, 27, of Bowness Close, Hartlepool, admitted importing a prohibited item, and attempting to import a prohibited item.

Kieran Rainey, defending, said in mitigation: “The baton was still in its case, it was a display item.

“Mr Flounders thought that because the stun gun did not require a firearms licence buying one was not a serious matter.

“He acted out of stupidity and ignorance.

“We have seen similar cases in the courts, so it appears there is widespread ignorance among the public of the serious nature of these devices.

“Mr Flounders does have a record, but it is mostly for motoring offences.

“He is not the type of person who goes out fighting, so he had no intention of using either weapon.”

Mr Rainey said Flounders recently found work as a labourer, and he was fearful of the impact a prison sentence would have on his young son.

Judge Simon Bourne-Arton jailed Flounders for 16 months.

The judge told him: “Ignorance of the law is no excuse, and your conversations on Facebook indicate you knew what you were doing to an extent. It is also worrying that no satisfactory explanation has been given as to why you wanted the stun gun.

“You might have had no intention of using it, but owners of these things often decide to sell them on to someone who would use it.”