Ex-plumber who built makeshift guns faces jail

Gary Owens admitted firearms offences at Jamica Mews. Picture: Greg Macvean

Gary Owens admitted firearms offences at Jamica Mews. Picture: Greg Macvean

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A FORMER plumber who built potentially lethal firearms from scrap found in the streets has been warned he faces a minimum of five years in prison.

Gary Owens, 38, created the weapons in his New Town flat and test fired them in his hallway where shotgun pellets were found embedded in a door.

He told police that the last one he manufactured took him a couple of hours to make.

Unemployed Owens said he had built the makeshift guns through a process of trial and error and had bought matches and party poppers to supplement parts he had found abandoned.

The former roofer and plumber, who suffers from depression, told detectives that he thought it might be a way to commit suicide.

Owens said the homemade firearms were for “if things got too much it was for suicide”.

He had been testing them to see what worked best because he did not want to end up a vegetable relying on everyone else and that he “just wanted to be gone”.

Owens admitted a string of firearms offences between February 1 and April 16 this year at his home in Jamaica Mews, in Edinburgh, including manufacturing a prohibited weapon and possessing homemade firearms.

Lord Uist, who had commented that Owens appeared to be “an unknown quantity”, said: “It is a most peculiar case.”

The judge told Owens that he would defer sentence on him for a background report and a review of his psychiatric history.

Lord Uist said it would also give Owens’ defence an opportunity to consider whether they should argue that exceptional circumstances existed which would not require the imposition of the five-year minimum sentence.

Defence solicitor advocate Robbie Burnett said of Owens: “He is very much a loner. He tells me he has no real friends.”

“He has been depressed for some considerable time and had on various occasions attempted suicide.”

The advocate depute told the court that in April this year the police received intelligence over Owens manufacturing firearms at his home.

When detectives arrived he said words to the effect of “is this because I make things”.

A specialist search team was brought in, including an army sergeant who is an ammunition technician.

He found two improvised short-barrelled weapons in the living room of Owens’ flat. An explosive from match heads could be ignited by a wire pull.

Police also recovered shotgun cartridges, pellets and ball bearings in a plastic Kinder egg container.

Owens said he had been “tinkering about” with the ­devices found at his home.

He said he did not know if they would be classed as guns and stated that he thought he would be dead by the time they were found.

Owens said he would have smashed them up with a hammer if he decided not to use them on himself.