Alex Massie

Paul Clarke Sentenced Today

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Remember the Paul Clarke affair*? He's the chap who found a shotgun in his garden, took it to the local police station, was arrested for possession of a firearm, tried, convicted and, possibly, faced as many as five years in prison? Well he was sentenced today. Holly Thompson has the story:

A former soldier who faced five years in jail after finding a shotgun and handing it in to police will be spending Christmas at home.

Paul Clarke, 27, was given a 12-month suspended sentence for possession of a firearm at Reading Crown Court today.

Clarke took the stand and sensationally claimed he had been having a sexual relationship with a female Surrey Police detective – and another police officer had grown jealous.

The 27-year-old was given the chance to give evidence in open court before his sentencing.

He said: "I didn't call the police [to tell them I had found the gun] because I was sleeping with the detective.

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"Another officer has got a bit jealous and I have had a lot of harassment from the police since then.

"I also didn't want to call 999, I didn't want trigger happy police on my doorstep so I tried to call superintendent Harper instead."

Clarke told the stand he repeatedly called superintendent Andrian Harper to make an appointment with him to hand over the weapon – found at the bottom of his back garden.

Clarke told the court Mr Harper was not available for four days after he had found it.

Clarke said: "I just said I had something to give him, I didn't want to say I'd found a gun because then he would have sent lots of police around.

"It could have been a duplicate or an antique and to be honest I was more concerned I would be done for wasting police time, it never even crossed my mind I would be arrested."

So, yes, this is all very strange. In the end, however, it would seem that, at last and at least, a degree of common sense has prevailed. Read the rest, including the police's justification for arresting Clarke, here.

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Jack of Kent

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Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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