Man caught with tiny key ring 'pistol' pleads guilty

Man caught with key ring ‘pistol’ that is less than two inches long and fires tiny cartridges pleads guilty to possession of a firearm

  • Michael Lawrence, 34, bought weapon marketed as ‘smallest pistol in the world’
  • Police found pistol, mini flares and blank cartridges at his Newcastle home
  • Told court he ‘didn’t know it was a firearm’ and had bought it for its ‘beautiful box’
  • Lawrence pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm and was given a six-month community order

A gun owner who pleaded guilty to possessing the ‘smallest pistol in the world’ claimed he was more interested in its ‘beautiful presentation box’.

Michael Lawrence only paid a few pounds for the 44mm weapon designed as a key ring, but got himself into a lot more trouble than he bargained for. 

Newcastle Crown Court heard police found the pistol, mini flares and 2mm blank cartridges inside a presentation box at his home in Byker, Newcastle, in May 2019.

It was claimed that Lawrence didn’t know that the object was a weapon, but it was in fact capable of firing projectiles and doing ‘serious harm’.

Michael Lawrence, from Byker, Newcastle, only paid a few pounds for the 44mm weapon designed as a key ring, but got himself into a lot more trouble than he bargained for

Jessica Slaughter, prosecuting, said: ‘It was test fired and found to be in good working order.

‘It was deemed to be a firearm. The defendant said he didn’t know it was a firearm.’

Lawrence, 34, who has six previous convictions, pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm.

Judge Amanda Rippon told him: ‘You have to be more careful when you look at things which might, on the face of it, look like a toy or a novelty, but is not.

‘Because of the force with which pellets could be fired, it could cause very serious harm if it hit someone’s face, for example, even in jest while messing about.’

The judge added: ‘I think you know you made a mistake and you won’t do it again.

It was claimed that Lawrence didn’t know that the object was a weapon and that he was more interested in its ‘beautiful presentation box’, but it was in fact capable of firing projectiles and doing ‘serious harm’

‘I really hope you understand the court takes weapons very seriously.

Given, however tiny this may be, it can cause serious injury to people, the courts generally send people to prison.

‘The unique circumstances surrounding this offence lead me to take a wholly exceptional course.

‘This was a tiny gun which did fire a projectile but you will not have realised it was a dangerous article.

‘I accept you bought it to help a friend and were more interested in the rather beautiful presentation box it was purchased in.’

Lawrence, of Dunn Terrace, Byker was sentenced to a six month community order with a rehabilitation requirement.

The court heard he has worked hard to turn his life around in recent years and the judge said the pre-sentence report was impressive.

Paul Caulfield, defending, said Lawrence has health problems, including anxiety and depression.

He added that it was bought as a key ring attachment.

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