Story Archive

Zero Tolerance in the Real World — British Division

Paul Clarke, 27, a former soldier, was on the balcony of his home in Merstham, Surrey, England, when he noticed a bag in his garden that didn’t belong to him. “I took it indoors and inside found a shorn-off shotgun and two cartridges,” he said, so he took his find to the police to turn it in — “I thought it was my duty to hand it in and get it off the streets,” he said. As soon as he handed the gun to authorities he was arrested for “possessing a firearm.” Worse, the jury for the Guildford Crown Court found Clarke guilty, and by law he must serve a minimum of five years in prison. Prosecutor Brian Stalk said Clarke’s “alleged” honesty was irrelevant, and Judge Christopher Critchlow agreed, saying “The intention of anybody possessing a firearm is irrelevant.” (RC/Surrey Mirror) ...And now we know British jurisprudence is, too.
Story Update: For more on this story, including how the court handled Clark’s “minimum” sentence, see http://www.thisistrue.com/blog-paul_clarke_and_british_zero_tolerance.html
Publication Date: 15 November 2009
This story is in True’s book collection, Volume 16.

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