HMA v KATHLEEN WOODWARD

At the High Court in Edinburgh Lady Stacey admonished Kathleen Woodward after she pled guilty to possession of a firearm on 19 March 2011 in Forres, Moray.

On sentencing Lady Stacey made the following statement in court:

“In this case under the Firearms Act 1968 Parliament has provided that a prison term is the appropriate disposal unless there are exceptional circumstances. The Court of Criminal Appeal has recently considered the meaning of that provision. I find that there are exceptional circumstances and I will not therefore pass a sentence of imprisonment.

I note from the helpful submissions made both by the Crown and by counsel for the defence that the housebreaking in which the firearm was stolen was reported immediately and fully by you. I accept that while you knew of the existence of the firearm, you did not know where your late husband had got it, and as he was licensed to hold some firearms you did not appreciate that this one was held illegally. I also accept that the other firearms which were disposed of when he died were kept elsewhere and I accept this as an explanation for why this one was not disposed of at the same time. You know you should have surrendered it but I accept it as an explanation for why you did not. As you know none of that is a defence to the charge, and you pled guilty at the earliest stage. It is all of relevance to the sentence.

Your own circumstances are also of relevance. I accept that you are now in your sixties and have no convictions. You have led and I hope will continue to lead a useful life in the community. I am grateful to your colleagues who have written to the court to explain that you have training and experience.

You have had this matter hanging over you for a year. The fact of conviction is punishment in itself. There is no need in my opinion for this court impose any further punishment on you,

I will admonish you”.