October 26 2014 Latest news:
Friday, August 8, 2014
A Fenland man caught with a sawn-off shotgun he used for killing rats has been told by top judges his five-year jail term was ‘harsh, but fair’.
Police found the loaded weapon in a bedroom at Christopher Paul Malkin’s remote home near Wisbech in November last year, following concerns amongst his family about his state of mind.
They also discovered prohibited expanding bullets, as well as another shotgun and cartridges for which he didn’t have a licence.
The 53-year-old, of Market Lane, Walpole St Andrews, was jailed for five years at Norwich Crown Court in March, after he admitted having a banned weapon and ammunition and having an unlicensed firearm and ammunition.
He today challenged his sentence - the minimum normally imposed for possessing a prohibited firearm - at London’s Criminal Appeal Court.
His lawyers argued there were ‘exceptional circumstances’, including his lack of any previous convictions, which meant he could have been given a lower jail term.
But his appeal was dismissed by two of the country’s most senior judges, who said there was no reason to depart from the minimum term laid down by Parliament.
The court heard that, following a report from a concerned member of Malkin’s family about his state of mind after the breakdown of a relationship, police went to his ‘isolated’ home.
While there, they searched the premises and found four shotguns which he did have a licence for, and an air pistol.
When officers asked if there were any other firearms in the house, Malkin said no, but a further search uncovered the sawn-off shotgun, expanding bullets, unlicensed shotgun and cartridges for that.
He said he had inherited the sawn-off weapon - which he had used to shoot rats from the window - about 15 years earlier and intended handing it in to police but ‘never got around to it’.
The crown court judge recognised Malkin’s case was ‘perhaps not the type of inner-city gun crime’ envisaged by Parliament when the law imposing the five-year minimum was introduced, but that the legislation was not restricted to that kind of offending.
His lawyers argued his sentence was ‘arbitrary and disproportionate’, in light of Malkin’s previous good character and the number of positive testimonials written on his behalf.
But, dismissing his appeal, Mr Justice Foskett said that, although the sentence was ‘harsh’, it was not excessive.
Sitting with Mr Justice Bean, he added: “We cannot see that the circumstances in this case amounted to anything that would be described as exceptional.
“The judge recognised that the result may be harsh in the appellant’s case, but that is an inevitable consequence of the legislation.
“His approach was the correct one in the circumstances.”