An SAS hero who served his country for 22 years has been given 15 months behind bars for possessing a 9mm pistol.
Supporters of the war veteran have slammed the case as “another example of troops being persecuted by a government and courts obsessed with political correctness.”
The Express reports that Albert Patterson, 65, served for 22 years in the Parachute Regiment and the SAS.
Patterson, who served in the Falklands War, told the court he seized the 9mm pistol from an Argentinian officer in 1982.
Patterson said he took the weapon home as a reminder of the 22 friends he lost during the conflict.
Although Judge Christopher Plunkett told the court he had been privileged to see Patterson’s service record, he explained that parliamentary legislation left him with no choice but to sentence the former SAS man to 15 months in prison for keeping the war trophy.
Judge Plunkett told Hereford Crown Court, “In the wrong hands these weapons could lead to the death of police officers or cause all sorts of mayhem.
“It is this risk that Parliament is concerned about.”
In the United Kingdom, gun control is extremely strict, and as well as admitting to possessing a 9mm self-loading pistol, Patterson confessed to owning five rounds of expanding ammunition, 177 rounds of 9mm ammunition, four Enfield pistols, and a self-loading rifle component.
The prosecution stated that the former SAS hero’s secret arsenal was discovered by police officers during an investigation into a burglary at Patterson’s former home in Hereford.
After the illegal firearm was found, Patterson was arrested in November 1914.
Scott Coughtrie, defending, said Patterson’s weapons were never loaded and never used.
“He spent a great deal of time abroad protecting our country and our way of life. In his history he has dealt with the most sensitive and dangerous operations for his country.
“These weapons were never loaded or used in the UK and had never been in the public domain.
“He said he received said pistol as a trophy of war from the Falklands and the ammunition during his military service.They weren’t hanging on the wall but were hidden.
“He led a frantic lifestyle involving preparing for an operation, being deployed before returning and preparing for the next operation. Things got missed during his 15 years working in the SAS.
“When asked why he didn’t hand them in he said he worked abroad for 15 of the last 20 years and wasn’t back when there was an amnesty.
“If he handed them back to the military he would have been subject to prosecution.
“The guns were a memorial and he hoped to decommission them.”
(Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
The court also heard how Patterson had been in recent times helping locals in Afghanistan with access to electricity and water and had routinely risked capture by ISIS in the process.
As such, the illegality of his collection of weapons had been “placed to the back of his mind.”
“Patterson has been preparing for the likelihood of custody not only through providing for his family but also working on a project in Afghanistan in the Helmand Province with a local agency making sure they have electricity and water.
“He has a long-term relationship with locals meaning he can access these areas all while risking capture by ISIS.”
In comparison to other cases, where members of the public have been tried for possessing illegal firearms, Patterson’s sentence does appear somewhat harsh.
In 2014, a Cambridge court found former Mayor of Wisbech Jonathan Farmer, 58, guilty of possessing an antique WW2 German Walther PPK pistol he had been given by a friend. He received a 21-month jail term, which was suspended for two years.
Two derringer-style pistols, a Cuno Melcher brand ME 8 Detective pistol, a Brocock air pistol, and 11 six-millimeter.22 blank cartridges were found at the home of former Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra violinist David Parsons, 65, and wife Sandra, also 65, in December 2015. Both received suspended sentences.
Former commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, Colonel Richard Kemp, said the sentence Patterson received was appalling, and in his view the SAS hero, “should be freed immediately.”
“This is another example of our troops being persecuted by a government and courts obsessed with political correctness. An SAS hero who risked his life to defend our country shouldn’t be treated like a South London drug dealer.
“He should be freed immediately. The country should be grateful for what he did.”
(Photo by Corporal Jon Ryder/MoD via Getty Images)
(Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)