Grandmother jailed for 5 years for possession of pistol

Peter3hg

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A grandmother has been jailed for five years for possessing a "family heirloom" World War II pistol.

Gail Cochrane, 53, had kept the gun for 29 years following the death of her father, who had been in the Royal Navy.

Police found the weapon, a Browning self-loading pistol, during a search of her home in Dundee while looking for her son.

She admitted illegal possession of the firearm, an offence with a minimum five-year jail term under Scots law.

Cochrane told the High Court in Edinburgh that she had never contemplated she might be committing a crime by keeping the gun or that she might need to get a licence for the weapon.

She said: "I thought it was just a war trophy."

Defence solicitor advocate Jack Brown argued that the circumstances surrounding the case were exceptional and that it would be "draconian, unjust and disproportionate" to jail the grandmother-of-six.

Prohibited weapon
However, Judge Lady Smith said: "I am not satisfied that a reasonable explanation has been put forward for not handing this gun into the authorities throughout the 29-year period she says she has had it in her possession."

The judge said she was unable to find herself satisfied that this was one of the rare cases in which exceptional circumstances existed.

She said: "The result is I have no alternative but to sentence Mrs Cochrane to a period of five years."

The case began after police arrived at the 53-year-old's home on 17 June 2009 with an arrest warrant for her son who had failed to turn up for a court appearance.

He was not at the flat, but the 80-year-old pistol was found underneath a mattress in her bedroom.

When interviewed, Cochrane told police that the gun had previously belonged to her father and that she had kept it when he died.

She said she believed it was a real gun, but had no ammunition for it.

The weapon was sent for examination by firearms experts who concluded that it was a Czech-made pistol dating back to about 1927.

Cochrane admitted having the 7.65 millimetre Browning self-loading pistol at her home without a firearms certificate and possessing the prohibited weapon without the authority of the Secretary of State or Scottish ministers.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/10335003.stm

Completely ridiculous. While I'm sure she knew she shouldn't have the pistol, that doesn't make it right to lock her up for 5 years. The 5 year mandatory sentence for illegal possession of a pistol needs to be dropped immediately. It offers no flexibility and leads to stupid outcomes like this.
I'm sure she will be let out on appeal, although I don't think the judge actually made an error, it is just the law that is stupid.
 

nomix

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Mandatory minimums are the stupidest thing in the world, when it's impossible to get around them. She shouldn't have been charged in the first place either.
 

WillDAQ

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Maybe when making the decision to knowingly retail an illegal firearm she should have taken a look at what the penalty actually was?

"I knew I was breaking the law, but I didn't expect to actually get the mandatory sentence" is not a strong position in court.
 

Interrobang

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I agree with almost everything you guys write ... but why is it importand to this story that the 53 year old Woman is a "Grandmother"? It?s not like she?s likley to die in 5 years because she doesn?t have "any time left" because of her age (wich this sort of implies). And another thought ... why were the police looking for her son? [google session] Failed to show up in court and has "significant previous convictions" (I?m guessing "significant" mean "gun related significant"). Oh ... the lovley "grandmother of 6" has a previous conviction for assault ... and the gun was found under her matress ... guess it?s really comfy to sleep on it, that doesn?t look like it?s been hectically hidden there at all :rolleyes:

http://news.scotsman.com/scotland/Five-years39-jail-for-grandmother.6366961.jp.
http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/s...her-war-hero-dad-s-ww2-pistol-86908-22339119/

With that bit more information on this, I think the judges decision (to not believe the woman) does not apear to be quite so over the top as it first reads ... and that family might not be the one I?d want to put the "vicitms of the justice-system" - label on ... just saying ... maybe. Don?t know wasn?t there.
 
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Sruikyl

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Just because its a law, it doesn't make it right. She should be allowed to own that pistol, and being jailed for 5 years is ridiculous, considering its an old family heirloom. America, Guns yeah!
 

jetsetter

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This paranoia over firearms in some European countries is ridiculous. It is not nuclear waste, it is just a hunk of metal.
 

Peter3hg

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Just because you are an old person and a "Grandmother" does not make you exempt - if it's mandatory its mandatory - or do some people need the word defined? We live in a society where by we obey the laws (as best we can) or we live in anarchy, where the weak perish.

We are allowed to question whether the law should exist, which was the intention of this thread. Mandatory sentences are always a bad idea as they fail to take into account the mitigating and aggravating factors that are always present in cases. As I said at the top, the sentence was correct in law, but the law should not be this way. The judges hands are tied.
 

jmsprovan

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This paranoia over firearms in some European countries is ridiculous. It is not nuclear waste, it is just a hunk of metal.

the UK chooses to not let people have handguns, its a rather simple law to follow in the vast scheme of things.
 

LeVeL

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the fact that the gun was found under her mattress throws me off... just seems like a weird place to keep it

in any case, it seems pretty obvious to me that she should get in trouble for illegal possession of a firearm without a license. She should have just registered it as a collectible/antique item and called it a day.
 

Peter3hg

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the fact that the gun was found under her mattress throws me off... just seems like a weird place to keep it

in any case, it seems pretty obvious to me that she should get in trouble for illegal possession of a firearm without a license. She should have just registered it as a collectible/antique item and called it a day.

It isn't that simple to do. You can only register working guns as antiques if they use a redundant calibre of ammunition. Her only options would be to have it deactivated or surrender it.
 

brydie76

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Should be avenues for warning them ie. "You have 14 days to legally dispose of the weapon or register it, we will be back to check you have done either of those". And I agree that mandatory sentencing is stupid- we had a case of a boy being sent to jail for a long period of time because of a similar "3 strikes" law to some US states. The crime that he committed was incredibly minor too (something like taking a packet of gum/his friend taking it and him being charged as an accomplice or something)
 

pepitko

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Why not just give her a fine, make her register the gun or take it away and call it a day?
 

Cobol74

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Peter3Hg Point taken, should the law exist?

Control of weapons should be maintained IMHO however; I do feel we have gone way over the top, both with sentences and with the conditions for holding weapons. I see no reason not to go back to the situation before Hungerford with one addition every 5 years say you have to be seen by a head doctor to make sure you are not going nuts.

pepitko

Registration of guns is not so easy in the UK and for someone like this with a grand son who is obviously in trouble with the Police it is impossible. The Police would object to the registration and it would be denighed - also a safe or gun cabinet is a requirement and that is inspected periodically by the local constabulary. You addiitionally have to belong to a gun club. We take ownership of weapons in private hands very seriously indeed and it still does not stop nutters - see Cumbria shooting just recently.
 
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thedguy

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This paranoia over firearms in some European countries is ridiculous. It is not nuclear waste, it is just a hunk of metal.

Except in the hands of granny* one night when she gets scared could quite easily ruin lives.

*Granny here sounds to not have any clue how to use the weapon, but when scared even intelligent people do stupid things.
 

jetsetter

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Except in the hands of granny* one night when she gets scared could quite easily ruin lives.

*Granny here sounds to not have any clue how to use the weapon, but when scared even intelligent people do stupid things.

For me that is not an argument against firearm ownership. Accidents, suicides, crimes, etc are all immaterial (As they are used as reasons to ban firearms) to my position (My position being unrestricted firearm ownership). It is about a certain kind of freedom and in a sense, trust. Trust between the citizenry themselves and trust between the government and the citizenry. I see European law upon law, regulation upon regulation and I see a lack of trust and really a lack of freedom. The statement "Freedom isn't Free" may be clich? but it is true.
 

thedguy

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For me that is not an argument against firearm ownership. Accidents, suicides, crimes, etc are all immaterial (As they are used as reasons to ban firearms) to my position (My position being unrestricted firearm ownership). It is about a certain kind of freedom and in a sense, trust. Trust between the citizenry themselves and trust between the government and the citizenry. I see European law upon law, regulation upon regulation and I see a lack of trust and really a lack of freedom. The statement "Freedom isn't Free" may be clich? but it is true.

Holy shit dude! That is by far the dumbest and scariest thing I've ever read in my life. You really don't care that if someone is mentally unstable or has committed violent crimes before but should still be allowed to have guns? You toss around "people shouldn't fear their governments" line and I've always wondered if you were huddled in a basement with a tickle me Elmo doll and tin foil hats on (one for you and the doll) constantly cleaning a .30-06.

I'm all for right to bear arms, but I just no dude, fucking NO.
 

Spectre

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The mentally unstable and violent criminals are already getting guns. They are able to get guns in any country on earth, even ones with 'total gun bans'.

How, exactly, is this regulation working?

Edit: Also, if these people can't be trusted with a gun, why did you let them out of the prison or mental institution in the first place? And if they can't be trusted with a gun, they can't be trusted to vote, either! Or care for children (see: sex offender 'registry' idiocy), or really do anything responsible - no?
 
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jmsprovan

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the UK doesnt allow the vast majority of the general public to have a gun, we have low gun death rates as a result.

we only have a massacre about once every ten years, the majority of the yearly gun deaths are either inner city gang shit or suicides by people who have legally owned weapons.

the regulation works just fine, but if we want to become Texas we know exactly who to ask for advice.
 
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