Gun ‘obsessive’ fails to get back weapons
5:30am Tuesday 4th February 2014 in News
A MAN who police say was obsessed with guns has failed in a bid to get his firearms licence back.
Matthew Payne had the permission to hold the shotguns and rifles revoked after he was accused of threatening to kill his partner and later himself.
But the 49-year-old lorry driver was not convicted of any offences after his girlfriend Lisa Minnear withdrew her allegations against him.
And he insisted police officers who said they heard him making comments about suicide must have been mistaken.
Judge Douglas Field, sitting at Swindon Crown Court with two magistrates, was told how Payne was arrested in March last year following a domestic incident.
It was said he had thrown a crutch at Miss Minnear and had, months earlier, made a threat to shoot her.
He was taken to the police station and questioned where he admitted losing his rag, throwing the crutch and behaving in an aggressive manner.
But when he was being released on bail two police officers said they were concerned about his behaviour towards the guns after being told they would be held.
Insp Paul Longden was working in the custody unit at 2.30am when he spoke to him about his ‘obsessive behaviour around the potential loss of his firearms’.
He said he took the rare step of going through the risk management process himself after one of his colleagues had already done it.
“I expected to see a calm rational discussion about the weapons. I might have expected him to be slightly upset about it,” he said.
“He turned to me and said ‘To be honest, I am going to kill myself'.’ The experienced firearms commander said he was satisfied Payne was not gong to commit suicide.
But he said he made a note of it because he was concerned about him having a licence adding ‘I have never had that level of concern before.’ Under cross examination the Inspector insisted the man had not said ‘You have taken away my life’s work: my life’s hobby.’ PC Timothy Rich, who had been at the house earlier that night, bumped into Payne outside the police station and said he made a similar comment to him.
He told the court he said “Because these guns were being taken off him he was going to end his life”, again the officer insisting he hadn’t misheard.
PC Rich said he explained to him how the system worked for getting the five rifles and three shotguns back but he “was not listening to the advice.”
Edward Pleeth, for Wiltshire Police, said following his arrest Payne breached the sole bail condition to not contact Miss Minnear by sending her texts and phoning her.
After she made a retraction statement the prosecution was stopped, but his firearms licence was reviewed and revoked.
“We say this is a man who is obsessive with his weapons and makes off the cuff comments, or jokes as he may say, but we say illustrates acting in an impulsive and irresponsible way,” Mr Pleeth said.
Payne, of Clementine Road, Oakhurst, insisted he had never made the threats and was a responsible firearms owner who also trained gundogs.
The judge and magistrates found in favour of the police and upheld the revocation of his firearms licence.
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