No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Man Convicted After Turning in a Discarded Shotgun to Police

SurreypolicePaul Clarke, 27, a veteran, thought that he was doing the right thing when he found a shotgun in his garden. He took the shotgun to the police station and was immediately arrested for possession of a firearm without permit and criminally charged — an offense that brings five years imprisonment. Prosecutor Brian Stalk insisted that this is a strict liability offense and his intent to help police does not matter — he is a menace to society as defined under the criminal code.

If there was a case for “jury nullification,” this was it. However, the jury took only 20 minutes to find Clarke guilty.

Clarke insisted “I thought it was my duty to hand it in and get it off the streets.” Well now he knows better.

His defense attorney tried to show that a leaflet distributed by the Surrey Police asked citizens to “report[] found firearms.”

PublicenemyposterHe also showed jurors a leaflet printed by Surrey Police explaining to citizens what they can do at a police station, which included “reporting found firearms”. Notably, the arresting officer admitted that he was not even aware of the public leaflet.

However, Judge Christopher Critchlow said: “This is an unusual case, but in law there is no dispute that Mr Clarke has no defence to this charge. The intention of anybody possessing a firearm is irrelevant.”

Paul Clarke will be sentenced on December 11th. He will be hopefully removed from the streets, so that felons can rest assured that, when they leave loaded weapons in backyards, people will respect their proprietary interests. The only question is whether the police shouldn’t return the shotgun to where it was left. Otherwise, there is a gang banger who will continue a panicked search for his missing weapon.

In the end, the only response to the Court and the Prosecutor can be found in the English classic Oliver Twist when Mr. Bumble stated ” If the law supposes that, then the law is a ass, a idiot!”

For the full story, click here.

36 thoughts on “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Man Convicted After Turning in a Discarded Shotgun to Police

  1. Strict Liability for turning in a fucking gun found on your property. Wait a minute. If I plant weed in his yard and he takes it to the police he is guilty right….Well yeah unless he can show that its someone elses. Not many people still grow tails after (not) inhaling.

    The gun/rifle seems to me to come under some public safety exception to strict liability or abating a public nuisance. I agree that Jury Nullification should come into play here. With what was stated, what he is guilty of is trying to save others harm. The fool suffer the wrath of the injust.

    The English do have a strange way of enforcing its request to its citizens. I wonder if this case was farmed out to be tried by a Solicitor in private practice.

  2. England.

    Going forward in reverse.

    Do you know the word “entrapment”? How about “equity”? “Fairness” ring a bell?

    It’s now apparent why you never conquered the people of my island, Ireland.

  3. Here the jury followed Judge Critchlow’s instructions to the letter. Were they instructed with the spirit of the law as well their decision would have been tempered with common sense.

  4. This certainly was a case for jury nullification; the problem is that lay people are not aware of its venerable tradition, and, if they are, they don’t know that it is legal. Even so, there is a larger problem, and that is that they don’t engage in it anyway. Instead, like Nazis, they follow orders and do evil. You’d think that one juror out of the twelve, if only for concern over how he could look at himself in the mirror if he voted to convict, would have said, “I am not going to be responsible for sending this man to prison.”

  5. P.S.: Jury nullification has also been used for evil, as when all-white juries in the South would acquit defendants who were obviously guilty of lynching black people.

  6. I dare say, although I’ve never dealt with gun paperwork or attempted to register one, this would not have happened in the United States.

    If I find a discarded shotgun on my property, there’s no crime. It’s on my land. I found it. It’s mine. Nyaah. I might immediately board the nearest Amtrak train (after loading the gun first- you’d have to be an idiot to walk around with an unloaded gun!) and travel to a gun store or pawnshop within my state. There I’d ask for advice on how to get it properly registered, or sold, or whatever. I’d at least consult the Ebay help pages for some pointers on how to deal with this situation.

    In California, for example, the determining factor appears to be when you bought your house with that garden, and when the gun was originally buried there. If that gun was there in that garden the whole time, and you bought your house before 1/1/91, then you had possession of it since pre-registration days and so you are the proud owner of a legal, unregistered firearm. Otherwise you have to go to a gun dealer having a federal firearms license and get that sucker registered pronto before you can sell it or shoot it at tree trunks next to the neighbors’ yards. No need to get police involved at all, although I’m sure they wouldn’t mind pointing you toward locally licensed gun dealers within their districts to gin up local taxes.

    Now if I found weed growing in my garden, either naturally, or via trespassers, ha ha ha… better not go to the cops with that in the U.S.

  7. rcampbell,

    If this was happening in Texas you would have never heard of it. Them English folks are sissy dudes. Now I know what Arnold meant when he said “Girly Men” or was that Sissy Dudes?

    So should we be ware and warneth when the British are coming? One if by land, Two if by sea.

  8. On the plus side, he didn’t take it into the barracks and mow down his fellow soldiers, so there’s that, I guess.

  9. How could this decrepit humming bein (Paul Clarke) deign to bring a thingy with two metal orifices into the halls of holiness without the blessing of Boss Hog?

    Hang the humming bein high comrades.


    Spartacus Educational

    I just came across this on the net and it concerns me greatly. although this is in relation to Adolph Hitler the similarities between the way our present system of government is being run is alarming.

    Here is a quote out of the thing and the link that follows:

    “Before the crash, (Wall Street) 1.25 million people were unemployed in Germany. By the end of 1930 the figure had reached nearly 4 million. Even those in work suffered as many were only working part-time. With the drop in demand for labour, wages also fell and those with full-time work had to survive on lower incomes. Hitler, who was considered a fool in 1928 when he predicted economic disaster, was now seen in a different light. People began to say that if he was clever enough to predict the depression maybe he also knew how to solve it.”

    The comparisons in my mind are incredibly scary. After Obama serves his 4 what kind of passionate person will we have take office and serve the US?

  11. Master AY:
    I took the liberty of getting a few quotes for you. Here are samples of available automatic Colt Military Rifles. Press the trigger and empty the magazine. Prices are probably negotiable.


    5-2219 COLT M16A2 (RO702) 5.56mm RIFLE $ 28,900.00

    7-2941 COLT M16A2/M4 MK18 TYPE 10″ NAVY TYPE 5.56mm $ 30,900.00

  12. AY:
    I did read the Spartacus educational selection up to the night of the long knives. The U.S. has diversity and the constitution going for us. AY, you ring the bell of truth as hard as anybody here. We survived Geo II, we’ll get through this too.

    The rifles were only meant as humor.

  13. CCD,

    Any self respecting Texan would be honored to have that link. Now I just wonder what Government watch list I am on for opening it up? When I was in HIgh School during the wee early 70’s we had to read this crap book called 1984. Were they really off by that much?

  14. CCD,

    I as you are aware rely not solely on American History to make a decision. What is really nice is that almost everything is on the internet. There is so much to learn and so little time left. I have said before, if they had had this stuff when I was in college I would have never finished. I would probably be holed up in my house somewhere reading. As you can see this publication is repeat with hyperlinks.

    With wordpress it keeps you in the same browser on the open browser. I have actually crashed computers because I open windows within windows. Walls without Limits. This is good stuff. Just like today, I am learning something new everyday. Thank you for you humor too.

    A buddy of mine brought me his new computer to see. It was a new lenovo laptop which was pretty cool. Lot of memory in all aspects.

  15. I hope he gets the maximum five years. This is law as law is meant to be. Over every court room in the world should be the motto:-

    “Justice is Injustice, Injustice is Justice.”

  16. AY.

    Sliced bread has nothing on the internet. However one must leave one’s brain’s crap detector in most skeptical mode, their is a lot of good stuff but also an enormous amount of rubbish.

  17. I assume that Mr. Clarke was to have called the police and asked them to please come get the gun he found in his garden?

  18. CM,

    I think that would be “Justicia est Iniquitas , Iniquitas est Justicia”, but honestly mespo’s Latin skills are much better than mine.

  19. “just another example of an over reaching nanny state of which the US is fast becoming.”

    This is where you miss the point. This is a case of rigid application of the law and zero tolerance. Both of these are memes pushed by fundamentalists and some conservatives. This is not about State interference in people’s lives, it is about the rigidity of certain political viewpoints.

  20. I had a lawyer in California look at my joke of an answer and she says it actually checks out.

    The Californian gardener who has owned his garden (and implicitly the gun) since before 1/1/91 would have to take no action other than buying a gun rack or opening an Ebay account to make a few bucks. If he is so inclined he can helpfully point the CA state police to his Ebay page, so they can gather the information and file it somewhere.

    If the gun is newly acquired (as it would be in a recent real estate transaction) he brings it to the nearest federally licensed gun dealer (if he gets pulled over he can say that’s where he’s going) and gets it registered. Then as a good citizen he can show it to the police if he’s so inclined.

    God bless America!

  21. I find it amusing you calling us Brit’s sissy dudes? Your national sport is played by Men who wear protection so they don’t hurt their poor little selfs?

    I have never seen our game of Rugby played in fancy dress like your American football teams, If it is anyone who is sissy then look at NFL Players?????

  22. This case actually closely resembles the one of Leroy Reed from Wisconsin back in the 80s. That case was noteworthy because PBS got permission to videotape the jury deliberations. Mr. Reed was a borderline retarded man, who was on parole from a felony (undisclosed). He bought a gun as part of a correspondence course to become a private detective. When a police officer was shown Mr. Reed’s receipt for the gun, the officer told him to go home and bring in the gun. Mr. Reed went home, put the gun in a shoebox, and took the bus back to the police station, where he gave it to a detective. He was promptly arrested for being a felon in possession of a firearm. In the Reed case, the jury ultimately nullified and found him not guilty. The deliberations are fascinating to watch.

  23. foo,

    what about foreseeability of harm when you have an inherently dangerous instrument? But for, you setting in the chain of events in motion the harm would not have occurred.

    Case in point is the owner of a vicious dog with known propensities in a neighborhood, uncaged with children around?

  24. godhelpus,
    Rugby, although interesting to watch is more a mass mugging than a sport. As an American I first became aware of it around 50 years ago in “This Sporting Life” with Richard Harris. Sometimes there is a thin line between manliness and insanity.

  25. Anonymously Yours:
    If this was happening in Texas you would have never heard of it.

    LOL, no doubt. St. Louis either I’m thinking, the better half and I found a gun next to our car as we were getting into it. We were lucky (?) enough to have a police car drive by at just the same moment so of course we (fools that we were) flagged it down and showed it to the policeman. We told him we would follow him to the station to make a report and that we had not disturbed it in case there were fingerprints. He picked it up by the grip, said “thanks” and walked back to his car and took off. I wonder who it ended up being planted on?

    Same thing with a fat prescription drug bottle stuffed full of what looked like PCP soaked joints (a St. Louis fad for awhile)that ended up in our front yard after a police chase down our street one Saturday morning.

    In retrospect I can’t believe we let a perfectly good criminal activity ‘kit’ get away from us so foolishly. We were younger and less wise in the ways of the world is my only excuse.

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