Regina v Freeman: CACD 1970

The Defendant had been charged on indictment with possessing a firearm without holding the appropriate certificate. The item alleged to be a firearm was a .380 starting revolver described as being of solid construction and with constrictions in the front ends of firing chambers, and as a revolver which could be adapted by drilling to fire bullets with lethal force. The barrel was solid but part of it had been drilled at the muzzle end. At the hearing before the jury this direction was given: ‘the barrel was blocked up. An inch of it is still solid. Any you may say to yourself, ‘That is not a revolver, it is really a starting pistol.’ And I can say is, gentlemen, that an article like this, that can be adapted to fire bullets by drilling the barrel and making some other alteration, is a firearm under the meaning of the Act. This is the law.’
Held: Sachs LJ said: ‘In conclusion there are two observation to be made. In this particular case the subject matter of the charge was identical with that in Cafferata v. Wilson. Other cases, of course, may arise when it is a question of fact and degree whether the subject matter of the charge does or does not fall within ambit of the Act and’ in such cases the issue must be left to the jury. It is also useful to remember, having regard to one of the submissions of Mr. Mendl, that it has been held in Read v. Donovan [1947] KB 326, a case concerning a signal pistol, that the intention of the manufacturer of the subject matter of the charge is irrelevant to the issue which a jury must try. That being the decision of this court on the point of law, the appeal is dismissed.’
Sachs LJ
[1970] 1 WLR 728
England and Wales
Cited by:
CitedBewley v Regina CACD 6-Jul-2012
The defendant appealed against his conviction for possession of a firearm. The crown had been able to make it discharge a pellet only by taking elaborate preparatory steps. ‘There being no dispute but that the starting pistol was a lethal-barrelled . .

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Updated: 03 May 2021; Ref: scu.462425