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.




Jack of Kent


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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