Buried deep in the judge’s sentencing explanation in the Danny Nightingale case (a former SAS sniper sentenced to two years’ suspended prison sentence for possessing a Glock pistol and 300 rounds of ammunition) is this astonishing observation:
“It is because the unlawful possession of a firearm endangers society that even where mitigation appears very strong significant sentences are still appropriate.
“There are many examples of such cases. For instance in 2006 a defendant called Blackall had been shot and rendered a paraplegic by an unknown gunman who was never identified. On a further occasion a man knocked at the defendant’s front door and put a gun to his head. He reported this to the police but no one was apprehended.
“He kept a loaded revolver thereafter for his own protection. Four months later the police came to his house and he told them where his gun was. His exceptional circumstances were taken into account to reduce the sentence of five years to three years imprisonment.”
Do our eyes deceive us? Is it true that a fellow citizen rendered paraplegic by an unknown gunman was sent to prison for ‘only’ three years for owning a gun for self-protection?
Seems so. Blackstone’s Criminal Practice Bulletin (April, 2006) tells us what is happening:
“The Firearms Act is unique in setting a minimum sentence for the first, rather than a repeat offence … and in allowing no reduction in sentence for a plea of guilty, no matter how timely that plea may have been.”