Haverhill: Collector jailed for possessing ‘lethal arsenal’

A FIREARMS enthusiast whose collection of illegal weapons was the largest ever seized by Suffolk police has been jailed for three years.

Sentencing 48-year-old Karl Dowling, Judge David Goodin described the haul which included rifles, handguns and automatic firearms as well as 4,000 rounds of ammunition as a “lethal arsenal”.

He said recent events in France and the UK illustrated the terrifying way such weapons could be used if they fell into the wrong hands.

Dowling, of Bramble Close, Haverhill, who was arrested in February, admitted three offences of possessing prohibited weapons, two offences of illegally possessing ammunition and three offences of possessing firearms without a certificate or authority.

Judge Goodin accepted the offences were the result of Dowling’s passion for collecting firearms but said he had been the holder of firearms’ certificates for a number of years and must have been aware of how seriously the law regarded the keeping of weapons.

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“You were aware you were amassing a considerable illegal arsenal. One of these weapons in the wrong hands could have done untold damage,” the judge added.

Robert Sadd, prosecuting at Ipswich Crown Court, said police officers who went to Dowling’s home discovered there were not enough gun cabinets for all the weapons. “There wasn’t room for them all and they were simply in the house. It was a modern house and there were normal locks and no additional security,” Mr Sadd said.

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Officers also found a grenade and were forced to set up a cordon and evacuate neighbouring properties as a precautionary measure whilst the Bomb Disposal Squad attended and made the item safe.

Nicholas Doherty, for Dowling, said his client’s gun collection was “the love of his life”.

He said Dowling had Aspergers Syndrome and had not appreciated the seriousness of keeping the guns.

Suffolk Police Firearms examiner Allan Cole who attended the scene and subsequently examined and classified the 250 exhibits: “We would like to take this opportunity to urge anyone who has a firearm and does not have a licence or is concerned that one or more of their firearms is not covered by a current licence to contact the Firearms Licensing Department and avoid something like this happening again.”

n Anyone who wishes to contact the Firearms licensing unit can do so on 101.

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