The Sun starts petition for man caught with illegal pistols

18 April 2016 – A man caught in possession of four pistols and who readily admitted having kept at least one illegally for more than 32 years is the subject of a newspaper campaign to have him freed from jail.

The Sun reported this morning, in an ‘exclusive’ story, that Albert ‘Pat’ Patterson, 65, currently of HMP Hewell in Redditch, Worcestershire, was sentenced to 15 months in prison after admitting possession of a 9mm pistol, four Enfield pistols and ammunition.

According to the newspaper: “The unloaded 9mm weapon, seized from an Argentinian officer, was found stored with four Enfield pistols and ammo in the cellar of his home in Hereford in 2014.”

Patterson is a former Parachute Regiment and Special Air Service trooper. After serving in the Falklands War, where he said he picked up the 9mm as a memento, he spent 15 years in the SAS and deployed to various trouble spots around the world. In recent years Patterson worked as a close protection operator in Afghanistan.

Police investigating a burglary at Patterson’s home in 2014 found the pistols, along with an unspecified – and presumably licensable – “rifle component”.

No less a figure than Andy McNab, SNCO i/c the ill-fated Bravo Two Zero patrol during the first Gulf War, commented to The Sun: “There has got to be sensible reasoning. It has to be reviewed. Clearly it is a genuine mistake. It’s wrong sending somebody down when there is no illegal intention.”

Other supportive figures included Field Marshal Lord Guthrie, Admiral Lord West and Conservative MP Gerald Howarth.

UKSN comment

Unlawful possession of a firearm is a strict liability offence. Intent does not enter into the equation as far as the courts are concerned.

That said, Patterson doesn’t seem to have been a threat to anyone here. Clearly the pistols weren’t being misused in the UK, though what would have happened to them had he been killed abroad – or if the burglary had been successful – is a point open for debate.

Perhaps the law will be changed to take intent into account, though this is hugely unlikely.

Under current sentencing rules Patterson is likely to serve around seven months behind bars, roughly half of his 15 month term. The Sun is pressing for his custodial sentence to be substituted for a suspended one.

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5 thoughts on “The Sun starts petition for man caught with illegal pistols

  1. Nick B

    You’d have to say – why was it in the public interest to prosecute such a man. He served his country at the highest levels and clearly knows how to handle a firearm.

    For sure yes he’s committed an offence, but what’s wrong with an admonishment in recognition of the circumstances?

    Clearly there is scope for those found guilty under the firearms acts to be given suspended sentences as is the case with older persons – why not in this case?

    IMHO – circumvent the lot by giving members of the UK SF community automatic section 5 authority – call it a safety scheme in that they’re high value targets after their service.

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    1. TIM

      To be honest, I have wondered for a good while why their is no consideration given to the sane suggestion above. Inclusive of potential for boosting the armed presence on the streets in an emergency. Their would be a requirement to be current for instance, but when you consider some of the comments from government and the police that they are having trouble finding the staffing for the proposed increases it would make sense.
      A CO would easily be able to make a considered judgment on an individuals ability to perform such an emergency duty along with the medical folks on the individuals last unit.
      Cost effective, already trained and experienced. A mechanism could easily be arranged for swearing them in as auxiliary police officers. Probably not at this individuals age, but you could get at least ten years out of an ex serviceman.

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  2. Nicholas Harman

    He must have known it was illegal though. For a long time. He could have declared them voluntarily at any time and had them deactivated if he wanted souvenirs.

    So he did rather wantonly flout the law and I guess age is no excuse. Can’t have one rule for old soldiers and another for teenage boys. An illegal firearm is an illegal firearm.

    Quietly let him off with a bollocking and a reasonable fine would have been the best solution though, but now it’s in the newspapers the authorities may well feel obliged to make an example of him rather than be seen to be favouring old soldiers over gang members?

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  3. Chris Kinealy

    The moment you have MANDATORY MINIMUM sentences you generate stupid cases like this.
    He is actually very lucky indeed; gun club members have recieved FIVE YEARS just for a few extra or unwanted bullets or evn for possession of an air pistol.. Scotland had just made air rifles illegal; another totally stupid, pointless law that will result in some poor old man or woman geeting TWO years in jail for committing such a CRIME…

    CHRIS KINEALY.

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