No person shall initiate force or fraud against another's life, liberty or property.
Quite apart from the happy fact that this would allow us to imprison every single MP, it is only right that criminal sanctions—the removal of property or liberty from convicted offenders—are done in response to their initiation of force or fraud.
I bring this up again in order to point out that—under a libertarian legal system—a disgusting fucking injustice like this could never happen.
A former soldier who handed a discarded shotgun in to police faces at least five years imprisonment for "doing his duty".
The court heard how Mr Clarke was on the balcony of his home in Nailsworth Crescent, Merstham, when he spotted a black bin liner at the bottom of his garden.
In his statement, he said: "I took it indoors and inside found a shorn-off shotgun and two cartridges.
"I didn't know what to do, so the next morning I rang the Chief Superintendent, Adrian Harper, and asked if I could pop in and see him.
"At the police station, I took the gun out of the bag and placed it on the table so it was pointing towards the wall."
Mr Clarke was then arrested immediately for possession of a firearm at Reigate police station, and taken to the cells.
Defending, Lionel Blackman told the jury Mr Clarke's garden backs onto a public green field, and his garden wall is significantly lower than his neighbours.
He 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".
Quizzing officer Garnett, who arrested Mr Clarke, he asked: "Are you aware of any notice issued by Surrey Police, or any publicity given to, telling citizens that if they find a firearm the only thing they should do is not touch it, report it by telephone, and not take it into a police station?"
To which, Mr Garnett replied: "No, I don't believe so."
Prosecuting, Brian Stalk, explained to the jury that possession of a firearm was a "strict liability" charge – therefore Mr Clarke's allegedly honest intent was irrelevant.
Just by having the gun in his possession he was guilty of the charge, and has no defence in law against it, he added.
This is, of course, utterly irrelevant: the jury, had they had any balls whatsoever, should have returned a "not guilty" verdict—and they would have been perfectly within their rights to do so. They chose not to.
And now this man faces a minimum of five years in gaol—and not only was he doing "the right thing" but he had not initiated force or fraud against anyone. Do you see?
I can only echo the anguished and furious cries of bloggers such as Constantly Furious and Dick Puddlecote: seriously, what the fuck is wrong with this country?
The police behaved like utter, utter cunts and the jurors were disgustingly craven. But the people really at fault were the stupid, corrupt, piss-poor politicos who drafted this piece-of-shit law.
As usual, it is the politicos who are destroying this country—when do we rise up and hang the fucking lot of them?
UPDATE: the normally sensible Stuart Sharpe just doesn't get it. Oh, and he quite obviously hasn't bothered to read the news article either.
Thing is, I don’t see what the outrage is about. If you find a weapon in your garden, the correct thing to do is surely to leave it alone, call the police, and let them come and collect the weapon. Not to go traipsing down to the local police station and produce a shotgun in front of the startled receptionist with an Errol Flynn style flick of the wrist.
Besides, what kind of idiot discovers that a shotgun has been thrown into his garden – most likely being disposed of by a criminal – and goes and picks it up? Has he really never heard of fingerprinting?
So, here are a couple of facts that, it seems, Stuart couldn't be bothered to read:
- Paul Clarke did not "produce a shotgun in front of the startled receptionist with an Errol Flynn style flick of the wrist": he phoned ahead to the Chief Superintendant and made an appointment; then, in an interview room, took the gun out of the plastic bin-liner.
- The gun was found in a plastic bin-liner: that means that his handling could be, and probably was, minimal. In any case, fingerprints are actually quite difficult to remove because they are laid down in fats—even tried to clean your frying pans simply by wiping it with a cloth?
As such, any fingerprints left by the original owner—provided said thug wasn't sensible enough to wear gloves—would not have been destroyed. As such, Mr Clarke's fingerprints would have been found but could be discounted.
But there is a wider issue here, and it concerns the role of the police. The seventh of the Peelian Principles of policing is:
Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent upon every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
Under this fucking stupid law a policeman can handle a gun with impunity, but a citizen goes to prison for five years for doing so. This totally undermines the concept that the police are citizens and the citizens are the police: it undermines the Peelian Principles of good policing because it elevates the police above the level of ordinary citizen, paving the way for a police state (were we not effectively living in one anyway).
That is why Stuart's post is wrong at a fundamental level. On a more elementary level, as I said over at Sharpe's Opinion, anyone who thinks that someone should get five years in prison for being an "idiot" is simply not worth listening to on any level.
UPDATE 2: via Mark Reckons, here is a similar story from a few weeks ago—except that the finder was, in this case, told to take the gun to the police station himself.
A man who found a loaded gun linked to a gangland shooting was told by Scotland Yard to carry it across south London to a police station.
John Leary came across the weapon in a playground where it had been abandoned days after the crime. But the Met refused his request for a plain-clothes officer to collect it from his home.
Today the force admitted major failings over the matter.
Disabled Mr Leary, 51, found the weapon inside a plastic bag near his home on the Hemans estate in Stockwell. Speaking for the first time since the find, he said: "I was going to hang the bag on the railings until I felt its weight. When I looked inside there was a big revolver, a passport and some cash. It had a long barrel and I could see the chambers were loaded. There was no question of leaving it where kids play."
Immediately after finding the revolver he was confronted by gang members who tried to get him to hand it over. But he refused and called police.
Officers suggested they send a patrol car to his house, but he refused for fear of reprisals from the gang members who had seen him carry the bag away. "I told them it was more than my life was worth," said Mr Leary.
There's nothing like a consistent application of the law, eh?
UPDATE 3: a lot of people are suggesting that maybe the jury did not think that Paul Clarke's story was entirely believable. If that is the case, then it should have been reported; furthermore, he should have been charged with something other than simple possession of a firearm.
It is not good enough that justice be done: it must be seen to be done in a transparent way. Of course, since cameras are not allowed in our courts, we proles must rely on the press...