A Liverpool man was found to have an imitation firearm hidden under the driver’s seat of his car parked in Mold.
His lawyer told Flintshire Magistrates’ Court at Mold that there was nothing sinister about the weapon, which was a BB pistol.
It was not illegal in itself and could be bought at reputable retail premises.
He used it for target practice – to shoot at cans.
But the prosecution said it was a very realistic looking which was why he had been charged with possessing an imitation firearm.
Robert O’Rourke, 49, of Woodbine Street in Liverpool, admitted possessing the .177 BB firing resolver at St Mary’s Mews in Mold, on February 6.
He received a 16 week prison sentence suspended for two years and he was made the subject of an eight week curfew between 7pm
O’Rourke was ordered to pay £85 costs and a £115 surcharge and a confiscation and destruction order was made for the gun.
Magistrates said it passed the custody threshold because the gun did look ‘very realistic’.
The chambers had been loaded at the time which meant it could have been used to harm someone, threaten or intimidate.
It had been positioned under the driver’s seat of the vehicle ‘within easy reach’.
Prosecutor Justin Espie said police saw an Astra car being driven without lights one night in Wrexham Street in Mold.
It parked up in St Mary’s Mews and the defendant was not in the vehicle.
There were others in the vehicle and when the car was searched, officers saw a hand gun with a black handle in the foot well, under the driver’s seat.
It was very realistic, officers treated it as if it was real at the time, and a firearms squad was called out.
The chamber was loaded, the rounds were removed and it was made safe. It was found to be a .177 BB revolver.
O’Rourke was arrested and confirmed it was his and said: “It is just an imitation.”
The prosecutor said he wished to show the court how realistic the gun was and put a photograph of it up on television screens.
Kieran Fielding, defending, said it was a BB gun which could be lawfully held.
It was an air pistol and not something that could cause damage.
He said: “It is not what it looks like.”
The item had been used for target practice and was not illegal in itself.
Its capacity meant it was not subject to The Firearms Act and it could be bought through main retailers.
“He had been using it for firing at targets and cans and was in the car because he had left it there,” he said.
There was nothing in the circumstances that aggravated the offence.
“It was not there for any unlawful purpose,” said Mr Fielding.
He had been totally honest with the police and admitted it was his.
Probation officer Pamela Roberts said that in interview, the defendant told how he was in North Wales to visit a friend.
The gun had been left in the car for the last couple of weeks. It was for his own personal use because he ‘enjoyed shooting cans’.
The defendant, she said, was assessed as a high risk of
re-conviction because of his age and previous convictions.
He had periods of abstinence from drugs but was not motivated to address his drugs issue at present.
The death of his father in February 2005 had triggered off the use of drugs again.
Mr Fielding said his client had stayed off drugs while working.
But he returned home from work one day to find his father dead and that had an impact upon him, understandably.
That led him to drift back into the company he had previously kept when using drugs.
He had felt he was becoming unreliable in work and became unemployed.
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