Former Wisbech mayor hopes case will change law

Jonathan Farmer
Jonathan Farmer

A former Wisbech mayor who is facing five years in jail after being convicted of illegally possessing a Second World War gun is hoping his case will bring a change in the law.

Jonathan Farmer, 56, was found guilty last week by a jury in Cambridge Crown Court of possessing the German handgun given to him by a veteran more than 20 years ago.

Mr Farmer’s life had been turned upside down since the Walther 7.65mm hand gun and two cartridges was seized by police at his South Brink home in January 10.

He is now facing the prospect of losing his commission in the army cadet core and his seat on Wisbech Town Council as a result of the conviction.

He is not fazed by the prospect of spending the next five years in a jail cell but is hoping his case will change “badly drafted legislation”. Mr Farmer says people handing a gun into the police station could be arrested for owning it.

Mr Farmer, who served as mayor of Wisbech from 2008 to 2009 and in the territorial army, said: “Some things in life are a bit rubbish and this is one of them. I suspect it is going to be quite similar to going away in the army sometimes.

“I’m not angry. I passed the hospice on the way to Cambridge and there is not one person in there that I would change places with.

“I would be upset if I was a keen cross country runner or a keen golfer but I enjoy lying on my bed and reading a book - and what else do you do in prison?

“The whole of this is a waste of money. It boils down to badly drafted legislation.

“The point is if you using a gun for criminal purposes you won’t be charged with this offence. It’s for people that haven’t been involved in crime. “I would call for this law to be changed – it seriously needs looking at.”

Mr Farmer, who has been collecting military memborila since he was a child, was given the gun by friend, the late Capt Bruce Peace, who had been taken the German officer’s gun following while fighting with the 5th Mahratia light infantry in Italy. He had been told it was deactivated.

But prosecutors during the two-day hearing in Cambridge Crown Court last week heard the gun was still capable of firing.

Judge Gareth Hawkesworth that he could face five years behind bars after being convicted unanimously by the jury.

He said: “Your sentence carries a minimum term of imprisonment unless exceptional circumstances apply.

“You must expect a custodial sentence.”

Mr Farmer will be returning to court on Friday, August 29, for sentencing and will be spending time with his wife Susanah, who has supported him during the last few months.

He said: “Her support had been vital. I could not have survived without her.

“The people of Wisbech have been incredible. People have come up to me to say it is a ridiculous waste of time and money.”