Four men jailed over weapons stash have sentences cut
Four men jailed after a stash of guns and ammunition was found at a railway station have had their sentences reduced on appeal.
Serving soldier William Dempsey left bags of weapons at Carlisle station after getting off a train to Glasgow.
He collected them from James Ashdown in Kent. They were destined for Barry Kelly and Craig Colquhoun in Scotland.
They have all now had their jail terms reduced by judges sitting at London's Criminal Appeal Court.
All four were charged with three counts of conspiring to sell a prohibited weapon, one of conspiring to buy a shotgun without a certificate and one of conspiring to buy ammunition without a certificate.
Dempsey, 30, and Ashdown, 33, of no fixed address, were each jailed for eight years in October last year after they admitted the offences.
Ashdown was also given another three years for an unrelated drugs offence.
Kelly, 35, from Darvel, Ayrshire, and Colquhoun, 29, from Barrhead, near Glasgow, were jailed for nine and seven years respectively, after they were found guilty of all five counts.
However, the Criminal Appeal Court has now reduced those terms.
Judges said the original sentences did not make enough allowance for the fact that the maximum term for the offences was 10 years.
Mr Justice MacDuff, sitting with Lord Justice Fulford and Mrs Justice Elisabeth Laing, reduced Dempsey and Ashdown's sentences to six years and eight months.
Colqhoun's was cut to five years and 10 months and Kelly's to seven-and-a-half years.
Allowing the appeal, Mr Justice MacDuff said that, while these were serious offences which deserved a sentence higher than the upper limit, the rules could not be broken.
He added: "The overall criminality would justify - in our view as well as that of the judge - a starting point higher than 10 years, certainly in respect of these four appellants.
"But that, of course, is exactly what has been cautioned against in previous rulings.
"One cannot just circumvent the statutory maximum."