Brantham lorry driver spared jail over stun gun for protection against illegal immigrants at Calais
PUBLISHED: 07:00 12 November 2015 | UPDATED: 12:35 12 November 2015
A Suffolk lorry driver who bought a stun gun which doubled as a torch for 20 Euros from a Dutch driver has been spared jailed.
After what is believed to be the first case of its kind in the country Norman Garrett, of Rectory Lane, Brantham, told of the toll the eight-month long proceedings have taken on him.
The 52-year-old, formerly of East Bergholt, said he bought the multifunctional item, which doubled as torch and stun gun, for 20 Euros from a Dutch driver after the first one he purchased stopped working.
Mr Garrett insisted its primary use was as a torch to thoroughly check his lorry for roadworthiness and illegal immigrants before driving from the continent to England to deliver produce to markets.
He stressed he would have only used the stun gun as a last resort.
Mr Garrett was arrested in March, initially charged with a firearms-related offence, and faced a mandatory jail term if found guilty.
However, he was given a six-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, by Ipswich Crown after pleading guilty to a lesser charge of possessing a prohibited weapon.
Mr Garrett said: “I bought this thing as a genuine torch. I had only used it as a torch. If I had known (it was illegal in England) of course I would never have touched it. The police and the judge accepted I didn’t know, but ignorance is no excuse. It’s a reason, but no excuse.”
The stress facing a possible prison term has caused health issues and left him unable to work.
The married father of two adult sons said: “Until this happened life couldn’t get much better. I haven’t worked since July, mainly through the stress of the case. I’m sorry any of it happened.
“I was sure I was going to get a prison term.”
Mr Garrett has been a lorry driver for more than 20 years.
At the time of his arrest he worked for a Dutch company driving in Holland, France, Belgium, and Luxembourg.
He said the situation at the ports in Dunkirk and particularly in Calais had got far worse in the past 18 months.
Mr Garrett described the atmosphere for lorry drivers as “intimidating”. He also claimed at night there was a ‘no go’ area for police on a slip road to Calais docks where lorry drivers have to queue up to enter the port.
Mr Garrett said the migrants swarmed over lorries trying to get into, or onto, them.
“It’s very intimidating. I’m scared of no man - same as all the drivers - but when you see a mob right in front you it controls everything. I’ve seen police with tear gas step backwards.
“When you have go a group of 100 people intimidation doesn’t even cover it.”
Mr Garrett was found with the broken torch/stun gun and the working torch/stun gun at around 3am on March 13 as he entered the country through Felixstowe docks.
Officers found the items in his cab.
His case was then investigated by the National Crime Agency.
In addition to his suspended prison sentence Ipswich Crown Court ordered Mr Garrett to pay £150 prosecution costs and £80 to the victims’ fund.