OAP avoids jail over SAS gun discovery

Ian Cargill pleaded guilty at Edinburgh High Court to posessing a firearm and 140 rounds of ammunition.
Ian Cargill pleaded guilty at Edinburgh High Court to posessing a firearm and 140 rounds of ammunition.

A FIFE Pensioner who was arrested after police found his SAS hero father’s World War Two revolver in the attic of his home has avoided being sent to prison.

Ian Cargill (71) took possession of his dad’s Smith & Wesson .38 British service revolver following the death of his mother in 2009.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard on Monday how Mr Cargill Snr was given the weapon in 1944 or 1945 as a souvenir by grateful French Resistance fighters.

The soldier had been parachuted behind enemy lines and helped the resistance carry out operations against Nazis.

When he returned back to Scotland, the weapon was put into storage in the loft of Mr Cargill Senior’s home. When Mr Cargill Senior died in 1977, his wife took possession of the weapon until her death in 2009.

Mr Cargill, a keen shooter, then took the weapon into his possession. In 2015, police arrived at his home in Gauldry, and asked to see his weapons.

He was arrested soon afterwards and under strict firearms laws he faced a mandatory five year prison sentence.

However, on Monday, judge Lord Woolman accepted there were exceptional circumstances in the case and fined Mr Cargill £900.

He said: “I accept your evidence as credible and reliable. You explained your father showed the gun once to you in the 1970s when he told you its history.

“He was a member of the SAS. He acquired it from the French resistance.”

Cargill pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm and 140 rounds of ammunition illegally following proceedings at the High Court in Dunfermline last month.

Sentence had been deferred for the court to obtain reports.

During earlier proceedings, the court heard how Mr Cargill claimed the Smith & Wesson was a war relic and inactive.

Ballistic experts said the weapon was still capable of being fired but only to the harm of the person who was discharging it.

Prosecution lawyer Richard Goddard told Lord Woolman that police arrived at Cargill’s home on September 11, 2015.

He added: “As a result of information received, officers obtained a search warrant for the accused’s home. During a search of the attic, police officers recovered a Smith & Wesson revolver.”

Officers found the weapon and established it belonged to Cargill’s father.

Cargill attended Police Scotland’s Bell Street headquarters in Dundee and was charged.

Ballistics experts analysed the gun and found that it was in a ‘poor state of repair’ – but that it was possible for it to fire a bullet. A motion for the forfeiture of the revolver was granted by the court.

On Monday, at the High Court in Edinburgh, Mr Cargill told defence advocate Gavin Anderson that his dad was a special forces soldier during the Second World War.

He added: “He fought with the Special Air Service. He was parachuted behind enemy lines and helped the Resistance with their operations.

“He was given the gun as a souvenir by a Frenchman.”

Mr Cargill, a former special constable, told the court that the weapon wasn’t ever going to be used. He told the court that he had wanted to donate the weapon to a museum.

He added: “It was a cherished wish for it to go to a museum.”

Mr Cargill also told the court that he didn’t realise the weapon contravened strict firearms legislation.

He said he ‘regretted’ that he never checked whether he was legally entitled to keep the weapon.

The court heard that following his arrest, Mr Cargill had surrendered his shotgun and firearms certificates.

Fining Mr Cargill, Lord Woolman said that he decided not to send Mr Cargill to jail because of the specific circumstances of the case.

Lord Woolman said that sending Cargill to prison would have a severe effect on him given his age and the fact that he is on medication.

He added: “You have a long interest in shooting. During that period you have demonstrated a responsible use of firearms.”

“There is no suggestion of criminality.

“In my view it would be arbitrary and disproportionate to impose the minimum sentence of five years imprisonment in this case.

He said that he would have fined him £1000 if he had been convicted after trial. But he would fine him £900.