Man commits crime in buying a Taser to kill rats

NEWS AND COMMENT: Wherever you live, you should check whether owning a Taser is legal because this man, the owner of a golf school, Richard Gilling, 53, bought a Taser on the advice of a commercial lawyer and discovered when arrested that in England it is illegal to own a Taser under the Firearms Act 1968.

Man bought Taser to zap rats and found out that it was a crime
Man bought Taser to zap rats and found out that it was a crime to possess a Taser in England. Image: MikeB

He bought the Taser online £20. It came with instructions. He read the instructions and left his fingerprints on the instruction booklet. He never used the device and moved home sometimes afterwards. The new occupants of his home found the Taser which he had left behind. They called the police who found fingerprints on the manual.

He was arrested and tried in the Warrington magistrates’ court where he pleaded guilty at an early stage to possessing a weapon designed or adapted to discharge electrified barbs. The judge was lenient with him because he remarked that “it was a comedy of errors, shall we say, and we take that into consideration as well as taking into consideration the fact it was never used, and that it was never intended to be used.”

I’m not sure that the judge is correct in that assessment because he bought the Taser to zap rats and get rid of them in his home. His defence barrister or solicitor said: “He had a problem with an infestation of rodents where he was residing. He was advised to buy a Taser and effectively Taser them.”

The court was told that after he received it from the Internet seller (we don’t know the seller) he forgot about it. It looks as though he was reluctant to use it in any case and never did. His defence lawyer said that he had never been in trouble before and that he had commitments in the US relating to his golfing business which would be negatively impacted if he was given a prison sentence.

He avoided that and was convicted with a conditional discharge for 12 months and ordered to pay £107 in costs and the victim surcharge. Magistrates ordered that the Taser be destroyed.

I wonder if the seller was outside of the UK. It looks as if they were because a UK seller would not sell or should not sell to a non-authorised person because as we now know it is a crime.

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