Owner of stun gun loses prison appeal

Appeal: Matthew Brereton.
Appeal: Matthew Brereton.
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A SHEFFIELD man who stashed a stun gun made to look like a mobile phone in a safe behind his fireplace has been told his sentence will stand.

Matthew Brereton, of Arbourthorne, was jailed for four years at Sheffield Crown Court in September after admitting having a disguised firearm.

The 25-year-old, of City Road, challenged the jail term at London’s Criminal Appeal Court, with his lawyers arguing it was ‘too long’ because of problems caused by the Crown Prosecution Service.

They said the difficulties resulted in Brereton being handed a more severe sentence than he would otherwise have received.

But his appeal was dismissed by top judges, who said it was justified.

Mr Justice Irwin, sitting with Lady Justice Hallett and Mr Justice Eady, said Brereton was arrested in May when seen acting suspiciously near a car.

During a search of his home, officers found a safe behind his fireplace - the key to which was found on Brereton - and opened it to find a stun gun disguised as a mobile phone.

Brereton said: “How did you know about the safe?

“I’ve had five searches so far and nobody’s found it.”

The court heard the minimum jail term for an offence of having a disguised firearm - which includes a stun gun - is usually five years.

Brereton was charged with the offence - but by the time the case reached crown court the charge had been changed to a less serious offence.

However, a crown court judge refused to let Brereton plead guilty to the lesser charge and urged prosecutors to reconsider.

He was eventually sentenced for the more serious charge, with the judge reducing the jail term by a year to allow for the ‘inconsistent decisions’ made by prosecutors.

His lawyers argued his term was ‘too long’, saying the ‘lamentable series of switches of decision’ by the Crown Prosecution Service had ‘raised and then dashed his expectations’ more than once.

But, rejecting the appeal, Mr Justice Irwin said the reduction of one year was ‘sufficient’ to reflect the ‘history of indecision’.