Farmer and son kept illegal ammunition

A Wigan farmer and his son have admitted possessing deadly ammunition without a certificate.

Thursday, 13th October 2016, 2:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 25th October 2016, 6:25 pm
Wigan and Leigh Magistrates' Court

Stuart and Joel Baldwin, both of Bryn Hall Farm, Bamfurlong, were caught out after a spot check by police officers.

Wigan magistrates heard that although the .22 rifle bullets they found had been purchased legally, they all should have been handed over to firearms officers who called at the large farming, recycling and haulage business eight months earlier to tell them their firearms licences had been revoked and all guns and ammunition had to be handed over.

Both men admitted the offences and were ordered to pay a total of £500 each in fines and costs.

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Stephen Woodman, prosecuting, told the bench that police had called at the business in October 2015 to take the guns and ammunition from the gun cabinet at the farmhouse because the Baldwins’ individual firearms licences were no longer valid.

Although 52-year-old Stuart Baldwin was the only one at home during the police call, he told officers that all the ammunition the pair owned was in the cabinet and had been handed over.

However a spot check on May 16 by officers found 65 rounds in boxes behind a TV in 24-year-old Joel Baldwin’s bedroom, and a search of an outbuilding at the complex in Bryn Gates Lane found a further 10 boxes.

In a statement to police, Baldwin Snr said that ammunition had been used “daily” to control rabbits, foxes and rats on the land and in the buildings before their licences were revoked.

Baldwin Jnr said that he had forgotten about the bullets behind his television, which he had put there for “safe keeping” before losing his licence, after an early hours vermin hunt.

Both men had made full and frank admissions at the first opportunity, Mr Woodman said.

Stuart Baldwin had a drink driving along with a public order conviction, but his son had a clean criminal record.

Brian Jackson, defending, said Stuart Baldwin made no attempt to evade his ultimate “corporate responsibility” for what was found at the farm, honestly believing all the ammunition had already been confiscated and that his son had never denied knowing the licences had been revoked, only that he had forgotten about the bullets behind the TV and admitted that they should have been kept safely in a gun cabinet.

Mr Jackson said: “The pair have been brutally frank with police and have made no attempt to attempt to shift the blame, even though convictions for them may have consequences.”

The chairman of the bench fined Stuart Baldwin and Joel Baldwin £400 each and ordered that they should also each pay £85 contribution towards the costs of prosecution, plus £40 each victim surcharge.

He also ordered that the .22 shells be destroyed.