Our top results in defending sexual offences prosecutions from 2009-2011. For specialist sexual offences defence advice contact our Firearms offences lawyers in London. For our latest case successes click here.


Retired Gun Dealer Cleared of Serious Firearms Charges

September 20, 2011

Laura Saunsbury, our firearms law specialist, has achieved another outstanding result. She represented a 70 year old retired gun dealer prosecuted for unlawful possession of a pistol and ammunition capable of being used in it. The pistol was classified as a prohibited firearm and therefore carried the potential for a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years imprisonment. Our client had taken the pistol and ammunition into his possession at the request of a friend who discovered them in a house clearance and took them to the retired gun dealer for advice on what to do with them.
Had he not been arrested a few days later for unconnected matters, of which he was wholly cleared, our client had intended to surrender the firearm and ammunition to the local firearms licensing manager, whom he had known for many years. Also found in the police search of our client's home were two other firearms. The jury accepted our client's explanation he had no knowledge of those being in his home, they having been amongst some of his girlfriend's belongings which had not been unpacked since she moved in with him.
Laura ensured her client was expertly represented in his trial at Chelmsford Crown Court by specialist firearms barrister Nick Doherty. The Court of Appeal case of R v Pommel) (1995) was relied on as an authority to establish the little used defence of necessity, or duress of circumstances, to justify our client having the pistol and its ammunition in his possession at the time of his arrest.
Having been acquitted of all counts by the jury, the Judge directed that our client's privately paid legal costs be repaid from Central Funds. This client was referred to Laura by the Country Land & Business Association, of which she is a business member.

Respected Gun Dealer Faces Prosecution Again

May 18, 2011

Laura Saunsbury has again been instructed by a well known London firearms dealer to defend him in his second Crown Court trial. Last year Mike Wells, a respected figure in the shooting community, was acquitted in a test prosecution for offences relating to the transfer of a modified Buckmark rifle, the issue being whether it was a "rifle" or "pistol", and so whether it could be placed on a club firearm certificate. Mr Wells was very capably represented by Laura Saunsbury and Counsel. After a trial lasting 5 days at Kingston Crown Court, Mr Wells was acquitted of both counts on 26 November 2010, the jury having been satisfied the modified Buckmark firearm remained a rifle. As a result of the acquittal of Mr Wells, the Association of Chief Police Officers issued revised guidance to Police Firearms Licensing Managers.

A further test prosecution is now being brought by the same Metropolitan Police Licensing Department and once again Mr Wells has been singled out to be the subject of the test prosecution, despite there being many other gun dealers who adopt precisely the same practices as Mr Wells. In the current prosecution, it is alleged that Mr Wells has unlawfully supplied pistols to three firearms certificate holders by failing to properly restrict the pistols to two shots. Pistols are now generally classified as prohibited firearms, with the exception that a firearms certificate holder may be granted authority by the Police to possess a pistol for the purpose of humane dispatch of injured and sick animals. Such authority will normally be subject to a requirement that the pistol is restricted to two or three shots only. The difficulty is that there is no specification anywhere in the law or Home Office Guidance as to how a firearm is to be restricted to two or three shots to comply with such a requirement.

Mr Wells maintains he carried out the restriction of the pistols in accordance with the normal industry standards. He believes he has been made the target of a witch hunt by his firearms licensing department owing to his role as general secretary of the Sportsman's Association of Great Britain & Northern Ireland, an organisation which campaigns for fair and effective firearms legislation. Mr Wells has pleaded not guilty to all charges and the trial will take place at Kingston Crown Court in September.

Respected Gun Dealer Found Not Guilty in Test Prosecution

December 1, 2010

Laura Saunsbury acted for Mike Wells, a well known figure in the shooting community, in his trial for offences relating to the transfer of a modified Buckmark rifle. Mr Wells is not only a registered firearms dealer but also the general secretary of the Sportsman's Association of Great Britain & Northern Ireland, an organisation which campaigns for fair and effective firearms legislation.
This case was effectively a test prosecution on whether the Buckmark firearm, as modified by Westlake Engineering, is a 'rifle' or 'pistol', and so whether it can be placed on a club firearm certificate. Following a trial lasting 5 days at Kingston Crown Court, in which the jury were directed that they should only convict if they were satisfied this firearm is a pistol, Mr Wells was acquitted of both counts on 26 November 2010. Whilst the jury's decision in this case does not formally set a precedent, gun clubs wishing to acquire such a modified Buckmark rifle, may wish to refer their local police firearms licensing department to the outcome in this case as being highly persuasive.

The case involved a considerable amount of expert evidence both for the Prosecution and the Defence and therefore Laura Saunsbury's experience in firearms law was invaluable in the thorough preparation of the case. Mr Wells was superbly represented in court by Simon Kitchen of Counsel from Dyers Chambers.

For further coverage of this case look out for the Sportsman's Association newsletter in the January 2011 edition of Gun Mart magazine which goes to press shortly.

Another Stunning Success for Lewis Nedas and Great James Street Chambers

November 4, 2010

Nicholas Wragg, working with Gerry Mohabir (leading counsel) and Abigail Bache of Great James Street Chambers, secured a stunning success in the Court of Appeal on 1 November 2010, resulting in the overturning of our client's conviction and nine year sentence of imprisonment.
Our client was charged following a complicated surveillance and RIPA operation concerning the alleged supply of firearms in London. He had always strenuously denied any involvement.
Following detailed and complicated submissions concerning the law of criminal conspiracy, which were brilliantly argued by Gerry Mohabir, the Court of Appeal agreed that his conviction was unsafe and he was released immediately.

Firearms Prosecution Success

August 6, 2010

R -v- J

Woolwich Crown Court —7 July 2010

Client faced an indictment containing one count of possession of an imitation firearm and ammunition in a public place contrary to section 19 Firearms Act.
Circumstances: client arrested in January 2009 in South East London in a vehicle with two others. Car searched and a yellow blank firing Olympic starter pistol found in boot, in its box with ammunition, having been purchased less than half hour before. Client put forward reasonable excuse — namely that it had been purchased for use as a starter pistol in athletics.
Representations made to drop case prior to trial, based on fact it was an unrealistic imitation firearm and came within exemption in Violent Crimes and Disorder Act. Crown rejected reps.
Day one of trial was a voir dire on whether the article was an imitation firearm. He deemed that it was.
HHJ Byers then forced the Crown to review the case, on the basis that client was simply taking article from A to B, having just purchased it and therefore had a reasonable excuse.
It was also pointed out to Crown that the law at the time was such that the purchase of these starter pistols was legal and only became illegal in April 2010. There was an amnesty by police between April and June 2010, which the client had been deprived of participating in due to when he was arrested.
The Crown ultimately offered no evidence. Solicitor: Leila Rasool; Counsel: Mark Kimsey

Respected Gun Dealer Faces Test Prosecution

June 18, 2010

Laura Saunsbury has been instructed by a well-known London firearms dealer to defend him in a Crown Court trial. He faces charges relating to the transfer of a firearm from himself as a registered dealer to himself as holder of the club firearms certificate for the gun club of which he is the honorary secretary. There is no question that our client was in lawful possession of the firearm in his capacity as a dealer but the police say gun clubs cannot be authorised to possess firearms of this type. The case is likely to become a test case as to what types of firearms can be possessed by gun clubs. It will therefore be followed with interest by gun clubs and the shooting fraternity across England and Wales.

Police Forced to Return Property Seized Illegally

June 18, 2010

Laura Saunsbury secured the return of property seized under an illegal search warrant. Her client is a respected London firearms dealer who is also the honorary officer of his local gun club and the secretary of a national shooting organisation which exists to promote justice for the shooting fraternity. He has faced closed attention from the Police in recent months and a search warrant was recently obtained authorising the seizure of computers and other property from the home of our client. Laura Saunsbury, head of our firearms law department, is firmly of the view that warrant was improperly obtained. Whilst the Police made no admissions of liability, following her strenuous representations and consultations with their own lawyers, the Police agreed little more than a fortnight later to restore all of the property seized.

New Instruction in Multi-handed Firearms Supply Matter

June 15, 2010

Keith Wood has been instructed to represent an individual, along with 13 co-defendants, who is facing trial relating to a conspiracy to supply firearms to undercover police officers.

New Instruction on Attempt Murder & Firearms Case

April 12, 2010

Penny Muir has been instructed by a defendant facing allegations of attempted murder and possession of firearms. See article from The East London Advertiser here.
Penny Muir is one of our most senior and experienced criminal defence specialists and has an enviable success record with these types of allegations.

Acquittal on Firearms Case for Lewis Nedas & Co

Chantelle Peters-Augustine acted for a defendant charged with possession of a prohibited weapon (firearm). The client was brilliantly represented by Nick Doherty of counsel (10 King's Bench Walk) who specialises in defending firearms prosecution and who instructed David Dyers, a leading firearms expert. The Crown's case was based on circumstantial evidence and was rejected by the jury.