A STAFFORDSHIRE company director was caught with an old World War II revolver when he went through security at Birmingham airport, a court heard.
Barton Simpson, 56, of Stafford Street, Eccleshall, had pleaded not guilty at Warwick Crown Court to possessing a prohibited firearm.
The charge followed his arrest at Birmingham Airport in May last year when he was found to be in possession of an old .38 Smith and Wesson revolver.
But on the day of his trial, Simpson pleaded guilty to an alternative offence of possessing a dangerous article “namely a firearm or an article having the appearance of a firearm” in an airport.
Simpson, a director of a letting agency, was given a 12-month community order with 140 hours of unpaid work by Recorder Richard Burns who also ordered him to pay £800 costs.
Prosecuting, Andrew Wilkins, who accepted Simpson’s plea and said he would not proceed on the firearms charge, explained that the charge arose out of events at the airport on May 31.
Simpson turned up to catch a flight to Croatia.
But when he put his bag on the conveyor to take it through the X-ray machine, security staff noticed that he seemed to have realised he had done something wrong.
“He put his hands to his face and hesitated before he then went through the personal metal detector.”
He then immediately volunteered that he had a Smith and Wesson in his bag.
The police were called to the security area and Simpson said he had got the gun from his father and had had it for 40 or 50 years, was arrested.
When he was interviewed he explained the gun was “a curio”, and it was kept in a bedside drawer.
“The reason he said he had it with him, was that he was having some work done on his flat while he was travelling and did not want it to come into the hands of the decorator, whom he did not know.”
His intention had been to leave it locked in his car, but because of a number of circumstances he was distracted.
He realised what he had done as the bag was going through the scanner.
Talbir Singh, defending, said Simpson’s father, a scrap metal merchant, had come across the gun and taken it home.
Mr Singh said it appeared the gun had never been discharged until it was fired by experts who tested it for the court case to establish it was in working order.
“The need to ensure security at airports is one that cannot be understated,” conceded Mr Singh. “But his case arises out of forgetfulness and an inadequate check of his luggage.
"He should have been more attentive. It is that lack of alertness that led to a terrible ordeal.”
Mr Singh said that as a result of his conviction, Simpson will have to relinquish his directorship and, although he remains an owner of the company, that will have an impact on his income.
Sentencing Simpson, Recorder Burns told him: “It was a very stupid thing you did.
“You realised too late you had done it.
You must be punished for it.”