Tag Archives: laura clarson

Firearm Minimum Sentence Avoided

Nottingham based senior Crown Court litigator Laura Clarson worked with counsel Dean Kershaw of No 5 Chambers to avoid a firearm minimum sentence of five years.

The Allegation

Laura’s client was stopped in customs at Birmingham airport.  He had arrived from Turkey where he had been working for a period of a few months.   His luggage was searched and he was found to be in possession of 3 tasers or stun guns.  These were disguised as torches.

As a result he was charged with possession of three disguised firearm under Section 5(1A)(a) of the Firearms Act 1968.   This meant that he was liable for a minimum sentence of five years custody.  This sentence could only be avoided if ‘exceptional circumstances’ applied.

Our client maintained throughout that he bought them from a market in Istanbul believing them to be torches.  He intended to keep one and give the others as gifts. He did not appreciate they also operated as stun guns.  Click here to see the items:

Disguised Stun Gun

Laura gave the difficult advice to the client, that as he knew that he had the items he was guilty of the offence.  His lack of knowledge as to how the items operated did not provide a defence.  He sought a second opinion from another firm of solicitors – in their rush to be optimistic, and perhaps tell him what he wanted to hear, the advice was legally incorrect.

Exceptional Circumstances

firearm minimum sentence
Birmingham Crown COurt

At the first Crown Court hearing our client pleaded guilty but on the basis set out to the police in interview.  The case was adjourned for a hearing as to whether he could be sentenced on that basis.  Counsel provided continuity of representation, despite being involved in a trial at the time.

Evidence was given by the client and submissions were made by Counsel.  Having heard from our client, the Judge was able to sentence him on a basis favourable to him.  Exceptional circumstances were said to apply, and in combination with extensive mitigation the Judge was able to impose a free-standing suspended sentence rather than the firearm minimum sentence of five years.

Laura’s client was relieved, being able to keep his employment and a roof over his head!

Contact Laura

Sometimes we have to give you difficult advice.  Even when we do that, you can be confident that we will continue to fight for the best outcome possible in your case.  If you wish to discuss a case involving a firearm minimum sentence or any other case with Laura please telephone 0115 9599550 or email her here.

She will provide you with advice on every aspect of your case, from funding, through to evidence, and likely outcome so that you can make the best choices.

Not Guilty Verdict for Client

Senior Crown Court Litigator Laura Clarson prepared a case for a not guilty verdict.  Her client faced two allegations of dwelling house burglary, aggravated vehicle taking and simple taking of a vehicle without the owners consent.  If found guilty he would have received at least 3 years in prison.

Taken at face value, the evidence would appear extremely strong.  The client had been arrested having been traced to where he was hiding behind a car by a police dog.

The police had recovered two watches stolen from the burglary.  This had been committed less than an hour before the client’s arrest.  They were found next to a gate that Laura’s client had jumped over during the pursuit

Keys from a vehicle taken was found under the car our client was hiding behind. When searched he was also in possession of a mask and gloves.

The defence of the case was made that much more difficult by the fact that our client had a substantial record of previous convictions for burglary offence and vehicle taking.

Laura’s client was passionate in his denials of the allegation.  He maintained that a second person was responsible for the offending rather than him.  Presentation of this defence was potentially hampered by the fact that he failed to give this explanation at the police station when represented by another firm of solicitors.

Her preparation, on her client’s instructions, began to show how the prosecution case was perhaps not as strong as it first looked and a not guilty verdict could be secured.

The following points were usefully made:

  • A second male was present although police officers could not agree about that fact
  • The dog handler could have traced the second male had pursuing officers mentioned him
  • Although there were eye witnesses, identification parades did not take place as Laura’ client did not match the descriptions
  • Defence established that a second male had had these allegations ‘taken into considertation’ when sentenced earlier



Although emotional about what he said were the lies of the police as to what had happened on that day, Laura’s client gave clear and compelling evidence as to his lack of involvement.  His account was tested by the prosecutor in robust cross examination but our client did not waver.

After a little over five hours the jury returned with a not guilty verdict.  Laura’s client was understandably relieved, and pleased that Laura, his barrister and the jury gave his account the weight that it deserved.

Our client was represented by counsel Dan Bishop from 7 Bedford Row who gave clear and helpful tactical advice on how to best present the case to the jury.  Decisions were made has to how best to cross-examine the police officers (gently or robustly) and whether to call as a witness the person who had admitted the offences upon sentence.  Ultimately, the right decisions were made.

This case demonstrates the benefits of instructing a firm with a specialist Crown Court department.  Laura spends all of her working day preparing the most serious cases that come before the court.  This may be for trials or sentence, but her experience means that she will give each case the attention to detail that it needs.

She will also be able to advise you as to the availability of legal aid.  Information can be found here and here.

If you have a case that you wish to discuss with Laura please contact her at our Nottingham office by telephone 0115 9599550 or by email here.

Trial Success at Nottingham Crown Court
Trial Success at Nottingham Crown Court