HMA v Henry Morton

At the High Court in Edinburgh on 14 November 2016, Lord Ericht sentenced Henry Morton to five years’ imprisonment after the accused pled guilty to firearms offences.

On sentencing, Lord Ericht made the following statement in court:

“You have pled guilty to two charges under the Firearms Act 1968.

Charge 1 is a charge of being in possession of two stun guns disguised as mobile telephones.

In terms of section 51A of the Firearms Act 1968, I am obliged to impose a minimum sentence of five years’ imprisonment unless I am of the opinion that there are exceptional circumstances relating to the offence or to you which would justify me in not doing so.

I have considered very carefully the evidence from the witnesses, their reports, the letters handed to me on your behalf and the submissions on your behalf and on behalf of the Crown.

It is clear to me that you are a good father and have been missed by your children while in prison since conviction. You are well regarded by your ex-partner Miss Simpson and by your friend Mr McDaid.

In the witness box today you said you were sorry for what you had done. All of these things are to your credit. 

Although you have some convictions, they are not recent and do not show a high level of offending.  Nonetheless it is of some significance that your breach of the peace conviction in 2001 involved an air weapon.

I have given very careful attention to Dr Laithwaite’s evidence about your IQ. In my view that does not constitute an exceptional circumstance. For reasons that I will come to shortly it is clear that you understood perfectly well what you were doing. 

I note Dr Tansey’s evidence that you are at a low risk of violent offending. However, that is not the issue for me. By selling the stun guns you would have put them into the hands of others who may have used them for violent purposes.

Taking all of that together, your personal circumstances are not so exceptional as to allow me to depart from the minimum term set down by Parliament.

I turn now to the circumstances of the offence.

You posted on your Facebook page that you were in Bulgaria and were going to bring back stun guns into the UK and try to sell them for £300 each. You also posted a video of you demonstrating the stun guns.

You were well aware that what you were doing was wrong. You sent a text message from Bulgaria stating that you would end up in a Bulgarian jail in respect of tasers and that you would sell them for £300 each.

When stopped at Glasgow airport on your return you claimed that the phones were genuine and you had not tried them. It is clear from all of that that you understood and were aware of what you were doing.

In the light of all that I have just said, the minimum sentence cannot be said to be arbitrary or disproportionate. I am obliged by Parliament to impose a sentence of five years in respect of charge 1.

Charge 3 is a charge of possessing the stun guns without a licence. Had you not pled guilty at the start of the trial, I would have imposed a sentence of two years. However in view of your early plea I sentence you to a period of imprisonment of 21 months.

The sentences will be concurrent and will run from 29 June 2016.”