Man jailed for carrying toy gun painted black in Portsmouth

The BB gun and silencer
The BB gun and silencer
The old radar station at Fraser Range, Eastney Picture: Shaun Roster

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A MAN has been jailed for having a BB gun despite police handing him back the toy the previous day.

Anthony Bird was spotted by a member of the public on a bench in Avenue De Caen, Southsea with a black toy BB gun sticking out of his waistband.

Prosecutor Simon Edwards told Portsmouth Crown Court police were called and the area was searched before Bird, 38, of no fixed address, was found.

Mr Edwards said: ‘The black handle of it was protruding from the waistband of his trousers.

‘He was asked to raise his arms to his head.

‘The gun dropped from out of his jacket. He was arrested.’

Bird was taken into custody on the day, July 3, and told officers he bought the BB gun three days before.

But Howard Barrington-Clark, defending, revealed that Bird had been arrested on July 2 with the weapon when it was bright orange in colour.

Mr Barrington-Clark added: ‘He is arrested by Portsmouth police for being drunk and disorderly.

‘He has this orange gun with him.

‘The custody took it from him ... and the gun is returned to him by Portsmouth police.’

He added: ‘Twenty-four hours later he has painted the gun black and you have the offence.

‘So the offence is painting and changing the colour.

‘It must be mitigation that this item is in the possession of the police 24 hours before and given back to him.’

Judge Sarah Munro QC said Bird’s reason for having the gun was for his own protection.

She jailed him for six months, with a £180 criminal courts charge and £80 victim surcharge.

The court heard Bird had pleaded guilty to possession of an imitation firearm at Leeds Magistrates’ Court on February 18 this year and received a community order.

Judge Munro revoked this order and imposed four months in jail for breaching the order and two months for the new offence.

Bird has 58 previous court appearances for 95 offences.

He pleaded guilty to possession of a imitation firearm at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court on July 29.

A Hampshire police spokeswoman said police had no grounds to seize the gun when it was bright orange as it was clearly a toy.

But she said on July 3, after Bird had painted it black, it ‘had the appearance of a real gun’.

The arresting officer was a response and patrol officer – not a firearms officer.