Suspended jail sentence for Devon gun dump woman

Image caption,
O'Rourke admitted firearms offences

A 70-year-old woman who took home a bag of guns which had been dumped at a tip has avoided a jail sentence.

Sandra O'Rourke, of Sampford Courtenay, Devon, found the four guns at the recycling centre she runs with her husband at Bow.

Exeter Crown Court was told despite being on a "to-do" list, she failed to contact the police about the discovery.

O'Rourke, who admitted firearms offences, was given a nine-month sentence, suspended for two years.

Stash of firearms

In a clear reference to the Cumbrian murders committed by Derrick Bird last week, Judge Graham Cottle told her: "I am prepared, but only just, to suspend the prison sentence that I am about to pass on you.

"It does not require further explanation that recent events can only serve to focus the spotlight on people who are in possession, and worse still, use firearms.

"You are fortunate to escape jail."

The discovery of the weapons came about when police responded to a 999 call from her husband about an incident at the tip.

The call broke off and officers went to the O'Rourkes' home where they found a stash of firearms in an unsecured building.

A police photograph showed a stack of rifles and double-barrelled shotguns, most of which were imitation or not operational, prosecutor Ann Hampshire said.

O'Rourke admitted possessing a .22 rifle without a firearms certificate and three other counts of possessing a shotgun without a certificate.

Defence barrister David Sapiecha said his client accepted she should have told the police about the guns immediately "without any hesitation".

Judge Cottle also ordered the weapons to be destroyed and told O'Rourke to pay £500 court costs.

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