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.
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.