Letters: Tony Eagle, August 11, 2015

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I am not at all in favour of the American gun laws, I am therefore pleased that our UK gun laws are so much better.As with any offence under any law, surely an offence under our gun laws still have to be considered within context.

I was therefore shocked to read about an 88-year-old unwell man receiving a two-year prison sentence for carrying a loaded shotgun in the back of his car.

Perhaps not knowing the old man or the circumstances, you may conclude this to be a lenient sentence. Knowing the man or a very short meeting with him, would, I believe leave you to believe as I do that this is an unneccessary sentence. The gentleman is old and has a severe difficulty with his mobility. He is deaf, which causes him to raise his voice. As far as I am aware, he has always been law abiding and cares for his house-bound wife. He also cares greatly for pets. When he and I were young, we lived in rural West Norfolk where it was common to see smallholders with a gun strapped to the crossbar of their bike or carrying a gun under their arm. I don’t doubt that the man in question has carried on this practice all his life. He has probably shot a rabbit or a pheasant – but would never harm a pet or human. He grew up to be a hardworking labouring man who served in the coal mines during the war. I am sure it would have been thoughtlessness or some ignorance of the current gun law that allowed him to stop and speak to a police officer on another matter with gun exposed in the back of his vehicle. It was reported that he approached the police officer regarding a complaint which he had made against some young offenders. Of course, the police officer had to do his duty and arrest the old man – as I hope he will also follow up on his original complaint. The judge can be applauded for reducing the five year mandatory sentence to two years, but surely is this democracy – there has to be some room for reasoning, dicretion and compassion? I believe that this old gentleman has no place in prison. I urge our local MPs and anyone else who brings influence to bear to get this old man home as soon as possible. This sentence in my opinion is not upholding the law, it makes an ass of the law.

If you share my view, please make it known to whomever you believe can bring the most influence to get this man released.

Tony Eagle