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Downham Market pensioner is released

Tony Martin PA PHOTO
Tony Martin PA PHOTO

An 88 year-old man jailed for carrying a loaded gun has been freed because of a legal blunder.

Norwich Crown Court heard he had been “tormented” by youths who had damaged his property and killed his kitten.

The grandad, who had a firearm licence, insisted he did not intend to cause fear of violence and occasionally used the weapon to shoot vermin on his land.

But after 18 days in prison he was freed when it emerged that lawyers had incorrectly classified his 124 year-old weapon.

It is thought they either labelled it as a double-barrelled gun or got the length wrong making it seem more powerful.

As a result it was presented as a more dangerous gun than it was and the judge followed sentencing guidelines which advised a jail term.

The pensioner’s own barrister Lawrence Bruce said he took full responsibility for the error which he made at an early stage.

Roy returned to the same court on Tuesday where Judge Nicholas Coleman re-sentenced him to two years in jail suspended for 18 months.

He wept as he was freed and allowed to return home to his wife Jacqueline, 73, who he has been married to for 48 years.

Roy, from Downham, said: “I was treated well in prison, I was in the hospital ward.

“But I wasn’t expecting to go get a jail sentence, I was very shocked by the whole situation and it just seemed so unfair. “I’m so pleased to be home with my wife again, we look after one another.”

Jacqueline, who is housebound, said she believes the wrong gun classification was all an excuse to reduce the sentence following a backlash in the media.

She said: “I don’t know exactly what they got wrong about the gun. They said they got the length of the gun wrong or it could be that it was single-barrelled.

“But initially they were all supposed to check they gun, they told us they would be checking the type and they obviously didn’t.

“After the conviction we wrote letter after letter and I think they just used this as an excuse because they got fed up with it.

“With Roy’s story going so far in the media they probably thought they needed to do something.

“Either way I’m pleased he’s home. I found out the night before and it was such a relief knowing he wouldn’t have to spend the next six months to a year away from home.

“I mostly look after him because of his health problems but he looks after me too, you do after so many years.”

The family are not yet sure whether they are going to seek compensation for the blunder.

Tony Martin, 70, who served three years in jail for shooting two burglars and killing one, yesterday (Weds) said it was “a good thing” Roy was released.

He said: “The whole thing is a bit strange. Why would it matter if it was a double-barrelled shot gun or a different type of gun?

“You either intend to go out shooting people or you don’t.

“It’s good he has been released, if you are going to put an elderly man in jail for that there should be a good reason.

“Sounds like they all needed an excuse to reduce the sentence. It seems like it’s been a bit of a can of worms to me.

“There is just no understanding in law, there will be these problems with the law being how it is.”

Roy was on the A122 near his home last year when he was found with the gun, which he had owned for 50 years.

At the time he had approached a police officer about the antisocial behaviour when the officer spotted the gun and arrested him instead.

Roy, who is hard of hearing and walks with a stick, said he did not realise the gun was loaded.

He looked after a number of animals including cats that he feeds daily on his land and was left devastated when his kitten was killed by yobs and he reported it to the RSPCA.

He was also made subject to a 12-month supervision order, his weapons and ammunition were forfeited and destroyed and his licence was revoked.

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