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Kevin Molloy was instructed in a Firearms case at Woodgreen Crown Court. The defendant had ordered a blank firing gun and pepper-spray ammunition from Eastern Europe online. Five months later the Police called at his home and having conducted a search they found the gun and ammunition. The defendant pleaded guilty. The 1968 Firearms Act, having its own peculiarities established that the ammunition and not the gun in this case attracted an automatic minimum term of 5 years immediate imprisonment under s.51A(1)(a)(i) of the Act. Unlike other offences there is no discount for pleading guilty. Fortunately for this defendant s.51A(2) states that the court will impose that sentence “unless the court is of the opinion there are exceptional circumstances relating to the offence or the offender which justifies not doing so”. And so began a lengthy journey in building a case for a finding of “exceptional circumstances”.
Lengthy and detailed written submissions were drafted by counsel with all the relevant authorities cited. Reports from Psychiatrists and others were obtained. With the arrival of Covid19 pandemic counsel was not allowed to attend court in person, however given that custody was likely the defendant had to surrender to court in person and counsel made submissions to the court via Skype!
After lengthy submissions the court eventually agreed to find exceptional circumstances in this case and the defendant was given a suspended sentence. After passing sentence the Learned Judge commented to counsel “it is obvious you have put a lot of work into this case and it is appreciated”. Kevin would like to thank Lawtons Solicitors for instructing him in this case and in particular Stephen Halloran for his hard work. If ever there was a case of counsel and instructing solicitor working as an effective team, this was it.
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