A teenager has been jailed for possession of a firearm - after he bought a novelty stun gun iPhone from the internet.
Ben Lowe, 19, of Union Street, Mansfield, was left in tears after being warned he could be handed a mandatory five-year jail term for buying the £18 gimmick and taking it to show his friends at the pub.
After considering the case, Mr Recorder Paul Mann QC sitting at Nottingham Crown Court handed him an eight-month sentence, saying five years would be ‘disproportionate’.
But he added: “I do not want it to be sees as setting the going rate for this, each offence must be looked at on its own specific facts.
“The public should expect that if they are found in possession of a disguised weapon, they should expect the full five years.”
Lowe admitted possessing a disguised firearm when he was with friends in the beer garden of The Reindeer pub in Mansfield in June.
Police found the fake phone to have electrodes protruding from the top of the weapon that gave off a spark.
Defending, Sarah Munro, said the law did not discriminate against what firearm Lowe had in his possession.
“These cases are always very difficult when it’s not a sawn-off shotgun,” she said.
“It’s difficult to explain to the public that this is the equivalent to having a sawn-off shotgun. There’s no suggestion that this was bought as a weapon and it was never going to be used to harm.
“He told me he had absolutely no idea it was firearm.”
She said that Lowe had been ‘absolutely terrified’ at the thought of going to prison as he sat sobbing in the dock.
Mr Recorder Mann was concerned with Lowe’s previous convictions, which included racially-aggravated criminal damage at a Mcdonald’s restaurant in Mansfield earlier this year, threatening behaviour and a caution for assault dating back to 2011.
But he took into consideration that Lowe was the carer for his grandmother with whom he lives, was hard working as a chicken catcher at a farm and had taken on the responsibility of his girlfriend’s child.
He also acknowledged that the taser would not have been useful as a weapon because it did not work properly, and that Lowe had thought it was simply a novelty item.
Mr Recorder Mann said: “In the eyes of the law, it constituted a disguised firearm which the minimum sentence is five years, unless the court is satisfied there are exceptional circumstances. There are exceptional circumstances.
“A five-year sentence is disproportionate, but I have to reflect the will of Parliament.”