Guns ‘courier’ spared jail time

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A GRANDDAD from Doncaster has escaped with a suspended prison sentence after a mix-up over trains landed him in court - on a firearms charge.

Dennis Bernard Mallinson got on the wrong train at Doncaster station but sparked a major alert when he left a parcel on the platform, which police found contained two .22 air rifles.

Officers discovered he was illegally in possession of them after having been banned for life following a three-year prison sentence for burglary when he was a young man.

Mallinson, 64, pleaded guilty to the charge at Doncaster Crown Court and the judge, Recorder Paul Watson, QC, said it would be wrong to send him to jail after he had been out of trouble for so many years.

He imposed a four month sentence, suspended for six months, and a residency order at his home address in Windermere Crescent, Kirk Sandall.

The air weapons, meant for Mallinson’s grandsons, were also confiscated.

Prosecutor Neil Coxon said Mallinson was not entitled to be in possession of any firearms because of his 1975 burglary convictions, but agreed to travel to Wakefield to collect them on behalf of his son, who had bought them over the internet.

But on his return to Doncaster station to catch a train to Newcastle he got on the wrong train. He also realised he had set off without the package, having left it behind on the platform.

When he got in a dispute with the guard on the London-bound train about not having the correct ticket he was reported to British Transport Police, who then linked him to the weapons left at Doncaster.

Mallinson’s barrister, Michael Cane-Soothill, said it was a remarkable case because his client’s previous offending was so long ago.

He said Mallinson had not realised the consequences of acting as a courier for the guns.

“He knew he was prohibited from having firearms but didn’t realise that applied to air rifles,” Mr Cane-Soothill said.

“They were brand new and had never been out of the box.”

Recorder Watson said: “Word has to go out to the public that those in illegal possession of firearms can expect a custodial sentence and I see no reason to vary that. But I accept that you were unaware these qualified as prohibited weapons. After you have been out of trouble for so many years it would be wrong to make the sentence immediate.”