By Chris Willmott Thursday 21 March 2013 Updated: 22/03 12:06
A COMPANY director was caught with an old World War II revolver when he went through security at Birmingham airport, a judge has heard.
Barton Simpson (56) of Stafford Street, Eccleshall, near Stafford, had pleaded not guilty at Warwick Crown Court to possessing a prohibited firearm.
The charge followed his arrest at Birmingham airport in May last year when he was found to be in possession of an old .38 Smith & Wesson revolver.
But on the day of his trial, Simpson pleaded guilty to an alternative offence of possessing a dangerous article ‘namely a firearm or an article having the appearance of a firearm’ in an airport.
Simpson, a director of a letting agency, was given a 12-month community order with 140 hours of unpaid work by Recorder Richard Burns who also ordered him to pay £800 costs.
Prosecutor Andrew Wilkins, who accepted Simpson’s plea and said he would not proceed on the firearms charge, explained that the charge arose out of events at the airport on May 31.
Simpson turned up to catch a flight to Croatia where he had some business dealings.
But when he put his bag on the conveyor to take it through the x-ray machine, security staff noticed that he seemed to have realised he had done something wrong.
“He put his hands to his face and hesitated before he then went through the personal metal detector.”
And before the staff revealed what the x-ray machine had shown up in his bag, he volunteered that he had a Smith & Wesson, which he said he had had for a considerable period of time.
The police were called to the security area and Simpson, who said he had got the gun from his father and had had it for 40 or 50 years, was arrested.
When he was interviewed he explained he kept the gun as ‘a curio,’ and it was kept in a bedside drawer.
“The reason he said he had it with him, and there is no reason to disagree with it, was that he was having some work done on his flat while he was travelling and did not want it to come into the hands of the decorator, who he did not know.”
His intention had been to leave it locked in his car, but because of a number of circumstances including the death of a friend of his and of his son, a serving soldier, he was distracted.
He forgot to leave the gun, which Mr Wilkins described as ‘a fairly standard issue’ World War II revolver, in the car – and realised what he had done as the bag was going through the scanner.
Sentencing Simpson, Recorder Burns told him: “It was a very stupid thing you did. You realised too late you had done it. You must be punished for it, but I think you can be dealt with by way of a community order.”
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