Two men who were caught with illegal Taser stun guns which were disguised to look like torches have both been given suspended prison sentences.
James Mannion and Celvin Harrison pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to possessing prohibited firearms, described in the charges as Tasers disguised as torches.
If they had been facing the more serious offence of possessing a disguised firearm, the two men would have been facing a minimum sentence of five years.
But instead Mannion (51) of Ryder Close, Hampton Magna, who also admitted selling or transferring one of the weapons, was sentenced to 12 months in prison suspended for 12 months.
He was also ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work and to pay £100 costs.
Harrison (38) of Napton Drive, Leamington, who has had his lower left leg amputated and has other health issues, was sentenced to eight months suspended for 12 months, without any unpaid work, and was ordered to pay £75 costs.
Prosecutor Daniel Wright said that in December 2017 the police went to Mannion’s address in relation to another matter, during which they carried out a search.
They found what appeared to be a Night Watchman torch – but which ‘had the dual purpose’ of being a Taser stun gun capable of giving a high-voltage shock.
When Mannion was questioned about it, he said he had purchased it, knowing it was illegal and designed with a dual purpose, and had taken a number of them home to sell to others.
He said one of those was Harrison, as a result of which the police went to Harrison’s home in February last year and found a similar device, a Police 6610 torch stun gun.
Harrison told the police it belonged to Mannion who had given it to him some time earlier, but he denied having bought it.
Mr Wright pointed out that the maximum sentence for possessing a prohibited firearm was ten years, but it did not lead to the minimum five-year sentence which would have applied if they had been classed as disguised firearms.
He added that both men had previous convictions, but none for offences involving weapons.
Judge Anthony Potter commented: “The danger of weapons of this kind, particularly when used by people who are not trained, is that they can have a detrimental effect on a person’s health.”
Anthony Cartin, for Mannion, said: “There was one item found at his home. He was very candid. He was asked whether he had had any further items, and he said he had and had sold one of them to his co-defendant.”
Mannion explained he had been sent it as a gift by a lady friend in America, and Mr Cartin said he has seen evidence from her saying she had sent it for him to add to his torch collection, not knowing it was a stun gun.
Judge Potter responded: “They can be utilised by police officers who have to undergo training, but are not available to the public because they can cause real harm and, on occasion, fatality.
“But it seems to me that in his case I can suspend the sentence of imprisonment.
“He is suitable for unpaid work, and it’s probably in everyone’s interest that Mr Mannion pays back the harm he’s done to the community in that way rather than languishing in prison.”
Sentencing the two men, the judge told them: “Both of you have become involved in possessing, and in your case Mannion moving to others, Taser items disguised in a bid to prevent their discovery.
“The danger of those items is that in untrained hands they are potentially fatal. It is for that reason they are illegal in this country.”