SENTENCING STATEMENTS

 

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HMA v Simon Churchman

 

Oct 28, 2021

At the High Court sitting at Livingston, Lord Weir sentenced Simon Churchman to five years’ imprisonment after the offender pled guilty to firearms offences.

 

On sentencing, Lord Weir made the following statement in Court:

“On 30 august 2021, you pled guilty to a section 76 indictment containing a number of firearms offences.

At the time of these offences you had no previous convictions and you have never before served a sentence of imprisonment.

I have taken full account of the helpful submissions of Mr Moggach, on your behalf, about your individual circumstances, service and work history, and the circumstances in which he says you came to have this collection of weaponry in your possession. I have also taken into account the terms of the probation service report at least in so far as it casts light on these matters. The report also touches on, and purports to make recommendations in relation to, the circumstances of a subsequent non-analogous conviction which I have disregarded for the purposes of the sentencing exercise I now require to undertake.

All of that being said, these were and are serious offences. You had a number of air weapons, a shotgun and a bolt action rifle in your possession, all without the requisite certification. A search of your property also resulted in the recovery of the weapon referred to in charge 4, namely a sub-machine gun, which was found to have been at one time de-activated but subsequently re-activated, along with a quantity of live ammunition, a number of rounds of which were suitable for use with both the sub-machine gun and the bolt action rifle referred to in charge 6. The narrative also discloses the discovery of a number of spent shells which appeared to have been used in the sub-machine gun.

Turning to the matter of sentence I start with charge 4.  In doing so I have had particular regard to the type of weapon involved, the evidence of its re-activation and use, and the recovery of magazines and rounds of ammunition suitable for use with it. Standing your own background as an expert firearms witness, you ought to have been under no misapprehension as to the seriousness of possessing a weapon of this character. Despite the submissions made on your behalf I do not consider that there are exceptional circumstances relating to you or the offence which would justify a departure from the minimum sentence otherwise prescribed by law, and no argument was ultimately put forward that I should. Accordingly, in respect of charge 4, the sentence is one of five years’ imprisonment.

Turning to the other charges, in respect of charges 1 and 2, I sentence you to 12 months’ imprisonment, reduced from 18 months to reflect your plea of guilty.

In respect of charges 3, 6, and 8, I sentence you to 16 months’ imprisonment, reduced from 2 years to reflect your plea of guilty.

Each of these sentences will be served concurrently, and will accordingly commence from today’s date.

I have granted the crown’s motion for forfeiture of each of the weapons, and the ammunition, referred to in the charges on the indictment.”

28 October 2021