In many areas of life, activist groups have forced the system to remove rational judgement from the actual judiciary and impose sentences no matter what the actual circumstances are. I could quote other even more awful examples with even more devastating consequences to even more ‘innocent’ people. It would be interesting to see if this policy has actually decreased England’s violent crime rate or gun-use in crime or if instead, like gun-control does everywhere, just makes criminals out of ordinary civilized people while allowing violent thugs to act with greater and greater impunity knowing that their victims are less able to defend themselves and that judges will cut a break to actual thugs.
Judge says sorry as he jails OAP for five years for firing ‘souvenir’ WWII pistol
Last updated at 00:22am on 09.02.08
Victor Bowden: Shot the windscreen of a neighbour’s car after he was woken by loud music
A judge apologised to a pensioner after saying he had no choice but to jail him for five years after he opened fire on a neighbour’s empty car with a Second World War pistol.
Victor Bowden, 65, had been driven to desperate measures by a two-and-a-half year battle over her constant partying and loud music, a court heard.
In the early hours of the morning, he took the gun, a wartime souvenir that had belonged to his stepfather, and fired it through the windscreen of his young neighbour’s car.
Today, he is beginning a prison sentence after a judge said he regretted that he was required by law to impose the lengthy term for his “foolish” act – even though the neighbour herself had pleaded for leniency.
“Regrettably, despite all the research we have done, there is no justification for any sentence other than the minimum five years in this case,” Judge Robert Brown told him.
Labour introduced a mandatory minimum five-year term for anyone caught with a firearm in public in a bid to clamp down on rising inner-city shootings, many involving drugs gangs.
By contrast, Bowden lives in the fishing port of Fleetwood, Lancashire, where he had been locked in a dispute with his neighbour, Karen Potter.
Preston Crown Court heard the retired security guard had been driven to distraction by the loud music and late-night parties at her home.
WWII souvenir: The pistol had belonged to his stepfather
He had complained to the local council, although not to police.
On October 18 last year, shortly after 3am, he fetched the wartime self-loading pistol, aimed it out of an upstairs window, and fired it through the windscreen of her parked car.
She went outside to investigate and found the glass shattered and a bullet embedded in the dashboard, the court heard.
Police were called and found Bowden in his back garden where he had hidden the gun – a German-made 7.65mm Sauer and Sohn – in a plant pot.
He later pleaded guilty to possession of an illegal firearm and having the gun while committing an act of criminal damage.
Miss Potter wrote to the court asking for leniency for her neighbour.
“I feel that he should be punished, but I don’t ask that he go to prison,” she said. “I just wish he had come and spoken to me before this happened.”
Following the row, Bowden had moved to live with his mother, who is suffering from cancer, the court heard.
However, the judge said he had no choice but to pass the minimum sentence, which applies in all apart from “exceptional” cases.
He told Bowden: “You had become exasperated, and perhaps reasonably so, by the music coming from your neighbour’s house in the early hours of the morning.
“Maybe because you had had some beer, on this particular night that exasperation became too much for you, and you decided to make some noise of your own.”
Jailing him for five years for the firearms offence, with a further year to run concurrently for the criminal damage, he said he was taking into account the circumstances leading up to his “foolish act”.
Afterwards, Det Con Mark Kelsall, of Fleetwood CID, said: “Bowden’s behaviour was irrational and frightening, and although nobody was in the street when he discharged the firearm, his neighbours were understandably very upset and scared by the incident.”