Software engineer jailed for five years after trying to buy gun from US

A software engineer who bought a gun and silencer online has been jailed for five years after law enforcement forces in Scotland and America co-operated to thwart his plan.

Monday, 14th January 2019, 1:43 pm
Updated Tuesday, 15th January 2019, 4:21 am

David Mitchell, 48, purchased the firearm and 150 rounds of ammunition after searching on the dark web but ended taking delivery of a package mocked up to look like the original after US Homeland Security intervened.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard that a Homeland Security special agent intercepted the original parcel at Newark airport in the USA on September 17 last year which was addressed to Pitreavie Court, in Dunfermline, Fife.

It was found to contain an amplifier but hidden inside the item was a fully operational Glock handgun, a sound suppressor and bullets.

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The High Court in Edinburgh

A judge told Mitchell: “These offences arose from your planned and deliberate conduct in attempting to acquire a working Glock pistol and a quantity of suitable ammunition.”

“It appears you formed a plan to obtain these items by carrying out research on the dark web,” said Lord Pentland.

The judge said he noted that Mitchell said he had no intention to cause harm to anyone but they were serious offences.

Advocate depute Liam Ewing earlier told the court that following the find a joint operation was set up between Police Scotland and the National Crime Agency to create a package containing metal and wood to mock up the original.

Mitchell was put under surveillance and a cardboard box containing the placebo was delivered to his workplace in Dunfermline.

Mr Ewing said: “The accused was seen signing for and taking delivery of the package. Later that day the accused was observed exiting the premises and placing the box in his car before driving home.”

Firearms officers later turned up at Mitchell’s home in Damside, in Edinburgh. He told them: “There is something under the chair in the living room and something in the recycling bin in the kitchen.”

The mocked up package was discovered under the chair and the amplifier and packaging were in a recycling box.

Mitchell was told that a search would be carried out at his workplace but he said: “There’s nothing there anyway.”

The prosecutor said that Mitchell “appeared distant” and was staring into space. He said that he suffered from depression and took medication for the condition.

Mr Ewing said officers were concerned about Mitchell’s mental health and arranged a medical examination. A psychiatrist confirmed that he was fit to be interviewed.

The pistol, silencer and bullets found at Newark airport, in New Jersey, were sent to Scotland to be examined by ballistics experts. The gun was found to be in working order but the silencer was not suitable for use with the Glock.

Mr Ewing said he had removed details of how the purchase was made from the narration for the court.

Mitchell, a prisoner in Perth, admitted purchasing and attempting to possess the pistol, silencer and ammunition between September 17 and 19 this year and attempting to possess a prohibited firearm.

Defence counsel John Scott QC said: “It is a very unusual case. In all respects he is someone your Lordship might never expect to see before a court.” He said he was assessed as posing little risk of reconviction.

He said Mitchell had “behaviour of a fixated nature focusing on a process” but has no serious mental illness.

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