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Gun obsessive has prison sentence doubled to five years

"Johnnie Curtsinger" (2020-05-31)

padlock-locked-old-close-hack-rust-thumbPictured: Robert Bartell, from Walsall in the West Midlands

A gun obsessive who converted blank-firing pistols into lethal weapons in his shed has had his prison sentence doubled after police claimed it was too lenient.

Robert Bartell, 54, bought firearms manufactured in Turkey and Italy from a Spanish website and test-fired them in his back garden.

Police descended on his home in Walsall, West Midlands, on November 28 last year and seized six handguns - some of which had been converted in his shed workshop to fire live rounds.

Bartell, who was not at home during the police raid, later handed himself and told police: 'I'm in a world of trouble over this; I know I'll be going to prison. I have to own up to what I have done.'

The 54-year-old admitted four counts of possessing prohibited weapons, two counts of possessing prohibited ammunition, Elastik Templates Library v1.27.6 and possessing a sawn-off shotgun.

He was jailed for two-and-a-half years at Wolverhampton Crown Court before West Midlands Police appealed the sentence claiming it was too lenient.

On May 1, the Court of Appeal agreed with police and doubled his sentence to five years.

Detective Superintendent Anthony Tagg, said: 'These were very serious offences that Robert Bartell was convicted of and we didn't think the original sentence reflected this.' 

Pictured: One of the blank-firing pistols police seized from Robert Bartell last November





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Bartell converted them to fire live rounds in his shed workshop using a table drill and disc cutter

'We made those feelings known to the Court of Appeal and I'm pleased judges have reviewed the case and extended the custodial sentence.

'This should send a strong message to criminals that we will work with the Crown Prosecution Service to pursue the toughest sentence possible for those convicted of such offences.'

In the raid at his home, police also found 23 adapted 9mm blank rounds which had been retro-fitted with ball bearings, lengths of steel tubing, a 5kg bag of lead shot and damaged books which he used for target practice.

The blank-firing weapons can be sold legally on the continent but are illegal to sell and possess in the UK.

Bartell told detectives he converted the pistols as a 'personal technical challenge' and claimed he had no intention of selling them onto criminals.