A South Tyneside man in court after keeping a rifle cartridge on his fireplace because he thought it was 'cool'

A South Tyneside man who kept a NATO specification rifle cartridge on his fireplace as a cool keepsake rather than part of a fearsome firearm has walked free from court.

By Gareth Crickmer
Tuesday, 10th March 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 11th March 2020, 4:42 pm

Robert Marley, 31, of Gresford Street, South Shields, avoided up to five years in jail after convincing magistrates there was no malicious intent in his illegal action.

In fact, it was they who warned jobless Marley the item had posed more danger to him than others due to its unconventional place of storage.

South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court heard he found the cartridge eight years ago among possessions left behind by a friend at a shared property in the town’s Beach Road.

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But it was discovered on his fireplace by police who called on an unrelated matter on Monday, December 2.

Prosecutor John Garside said: “There was some ammunition on the fireplace. They’ve seized it and analysed it and confirmed it to be a cartridge.

“He was interviewed and confirmed he didn’t have a firearms licence. He said it was his own and that he had no lawful reason to be in possession of it.

“The maximum sentence is five years in custody. The police have found it and there’s no weapon to fire it.”

David Forrester, defending, said: “It’s a difficult one because there are no guidelines.

“The maximum sentence for possession of a firearm is five years. The maximum sentence for stealing a Mars bar from a shop is 14 years.

“He fully admits possession. When in shared accommodation, a friend moved out and left a tin with this ammunition and a coin which he liked the look of.

“In interview he said, ‘I thought that they were cool so have kept them. I realise that bullets are illegal, but I didn’t think’. He’s never fired a firearm in his life.”

Stephen Bradley, chairman of the bench, said: “I don’t think that there’s any malicious intent though it’s dangerous to have this on your fireplace.”

Marley, who pleaded guilty to possessing ammunition without a firearms certificate, was given a six-month conditional discharge and must pay £40 court costs and a £21 victim surcharge.

Magistrates ordered the destruction on the ammunition.