Judge sends out gun warning

JUDGE John Devaux has sent out a chilling message to gun toting criminals by handing a five year jail term to a Chantry man who stockpiled weapons and ammunition.

IPSWICH: Judge John Devaux has sent out a chilling message to gun toting criminals by handing a five year jail term to a Chantry man who stockpiled weapons and ammunition.

He handed out the sentence to Martin Whitton who claimed he wanted a sawn off shotgun and air rifle, bought in 2005, to end his life.

But police caught up with him and the judge put aside emotion by handing out a tough sentence which will act as a strong deterrent in a town where gun crime has become a major worry.

The sentencing of the 44-year-old, of Iris Close, comes just over two weeks after a serial firearms offender was put behind bars for two years.

Robert Farrell, also 44, of Fuchsia Lane, Ipswich, admitted having a loaded handgun when he was stopped by police on the A14 near Cambridge, in August last year.

Whitton was sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to illegally possessing firearms and cartridges at Ipswich Crown Court.

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He also admitted growing 40 cannabis plants at his home which he used to remedy back pain he had suffered since an industrial accident in 1999.

The court heard that Whitton had lived as a recluse after losing his job and girlfriend following the accident.

He was haunted by nightmares of his father's suicide in 1991 and hadn't slept properly for seven years.

Whitton also suffered from depression and had bought the weapons at a military fair in 2005 with the aim of ending his life.

When police raided his home in August last year they found the weapons in an unlocked cupboard along with 40 live and unfired shotgun cartridges.

Richard Parry, mitigating, said: “This is a man whose chronic pain has developed into depression. He grew the drugs for his own use to help ease the pain and had become reliant on them. “When he bought the weapons he was thinking of ending his life - that would have been their only use.”

Judge Devaux told Whitton: “I'm unable to find exceptional circumstances in your case.

“You bought the guns with the intention of killing yourself. But why it was necessary to buy so much ammunition I don't know. You had stored these weapons insecurely for four years and the shotgun in particular is a weapon commonly used in crime.”

Whitton was given five years in prison for unlawfully possessing the weapons, 12 months for possessing the cartridges and a total of eight months for possessing cannabis.

The sentences will run concurrently and Whitton was told he will serve a minimum of two and a half years before being considered for parole.

DETECTIVES are still investigating two unsolved shooting incidents in Ipswich which left one man dead and four other men injured.

Jimoh Plunkett, 24, from London, was gunned down at Zest nightclub in Ipswich on December 9, 2006.

And on December 19 last year an Ipswich man was shot in the buttocks after trouble flared at the Caribbean Club in Woodbridge Road. Nine other people were also hurt as fighting broke out inside and outside the club.

Anyone with information about either Ipswich case should telephone Suffolk police on 01473 613500 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.