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'Walter Mitty' gun enthusiast jailed for five years after illegal Magnum revolver sparked Elland bypass shutdown

Dominic Barker from Elland said to be a 'Walter Mitty' character

A young gun enthusiast has been locked up for five years over his illegal possession of a Magnum revolver.

Dominic Barker was just 19 when he claimed to have bought the weapon, which had a silencer with it, for £250 from a flea market in Huddersfield.

Barker’s possession of the prohibited weapon came to light in June last year after he injured his hand at the Elland factory unit where he was living and an operation was mounted involving police and bomb disposal experts.

The police inquiry led to road closures and the temporary evacuation of the area as a precaution.

Bradford Crown Court heard yesterday that 20-year-old Barker, who had no previous convictions, was a talented engineer who had a keen interest in firearms and militaria and his barrister Stephen Wood argued that the mandatory minimum sentence of five years for possessing a prohibited weapon should not be imposed.

Mr Wood stressed that it was not a case of a teenager about to go on some sort of rampage and there was no suggestion in the psychological report or the pre-sentence report that he was a danger to the public.

‘’He has the continued support of an extended and loving family who have attended on every single occasion from Scotland with him,’’ said Mr Wood.

‘’He is a hard-working, highly-thought of, dedicated, trustworthy, loyal young man. There is nothing anti-social in his personality.’’

Mr Wood submitted that imposing the five-year sentence would be disproportionate and would destroy Barker’s future prospects.

He pointed out that Barker’s activities at the factory unit off Halifax Road were very open and he had regular visits from police officers.

‘’He was on friendly terms with the local police who used to visit him for coffee and tea - he was known to them,’’ said Mr Wood.

‘’He also had a network of associates who have a common interest.’’

Mr Wood said there was no ammunition found that could have been fired by the Magnum and the ammunition that was present would have been sold on at arms fairs.

But the Recorder of Bradford Judge Roger Thomas QC said Barker’s interest appeared to have developed from that of an enthusiastic amateur into the ‘’unhealthy side’’ of such material.

The judge indicated that there may also have been some element of the ‘Walter Mitty’ in the way Barker presented himself.

‘’The items you had in your premises, not reflected all of those on the indictment, show the extent of the paraphernalia that you had there,’’ added the judge.

Judge Thomas said the Magnum revolver would have been a terrifying weapon in the wrong hands and he rejected Barker’s assertion that he believed it was only a starting pistol.

Barker, who has been living in Springholm, Castle Douglas, admitted possessing the prohibited weapon and also admitted further charges related to his possession without a certificate of various types of ammunition.

He admitted the offences last autumn, but his sentence hearing was delayed because of the legal arguments over the way his case should be dealt with.

Despite the submissions from Mr Wood Judge Thomas concluded that there were no exceptional reasons not to pass the minimum term as decreed by Parliament and he sentenced Barker to five years in young offenders institution.

The judge said the Magnum had been re-activated and was capable of firing live ammunition and it was impossible to sentence Barker on any other basis than that it was a very dangerous weapon.

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