Edinburgh man guilty of illegally possessing firearm and ammunition

Edinburgh Sheriff Court. Picture: TSPL
Edinburgh Sheriff Court. Picture: TSPL

A 61-year old man, who has served jail sentences for attempted murder and drug offences, was been found guilty by a jury today of illegally possessing a firearm and ammunition.

George Buchanan, from the Craigmillar area of Edinburgh, was sentenced to five years and five months in April 2011 for drug offences. The Firearms Act of 1968 made it an offence for anyone serving a sentence of more than three years to be in possession of a firearm and ammunition. On November 24, 2016, Buchanan was charged with the possession of a gas powered BB gun and a quantity of ball bearings. The gun was a replica of a 9mm Sig Sauer automatic.

Buchanan, who pled not guilty to the charge at the start of a three day trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, denied knowing about the law regarding having the weapon and claimed it belonged to his brother.

The jury heard that Buchanan was arrested on November 24, when he was driving a van in Holyrood Road, on a warrant for alleged Misuse of Drugs and taken to an address he had given in Castleview Avenue in Craigmillar, Edinburgh. Buchanan said it was his mother’s address which he always used. Around 15 officers were called in and a four or five hour search of the house took place.

The house had three bedrooms, one did not have a bed in it, only a chest of drawers and was in “quite a clutter”, full of clothes, including a jacket with £1000 in a pocket, old mobile phones, watches and other items. This is where a black Nike toilet bag was found. The zip was wide open and the handle of a gun was protruding. A large jar of ball bearings was found along with small gas cylinders to power the gun. No drugs were found in the house.

Detective Constable Steven Boyle said he asked who owned the firearm and Buchanan replied that it was a pellet gun which belonged to him and had been there for a number of years. Buchanan was taken to St Leonards Police Station and questioned about drugs and shoplifting. He was charged with shoplifting and no mention was made of the gun until after the interview had ended, then he was charged with the firearms offence.

In his evidence, Buchanan claimed he only said it was his gun to avoid stress to his mother, a woman in her eighties and in poor health, who is now deceased, and his brother. He said he had never seen the weapon before being shown it by the officer, but thought it was a toy gun for kids and he did not want to get anyone else in trouble.

His brother, Ian, told the court he had bought the gun at a shop near Surgeons Hall and he and his children used it for shooting pigeons and rodents in the woods near his mother’s home.

The jury returned after 25 minutes with a verdict of guilty by a majority.

Fiscal Depute, Rachel Adey, told Sheriff Alistair Noble that Buchanan had been on bail since November 27, 2016. Nigel Beaumont, solicitor for Buchanan, said his client had no outstanding cases and the court could consider a non-custodial sentence.

Sheriff Noble deferred sentence until April 20 and allowed Buchanan bail, but he warned him: “A custodial sentence would be at the forefront of my mind”.