Converting pistols lands gun enthusiast in prison
WORKING as a carer for the elderly and people with learning disabilities, Roger Morrell had led an unblemished life.
But the 65-year-old collector of military memorabilia, of Australia House, Princess Elizabeth Way, Cheltenham, found his hobby cost him his freedom. He was jailed for two-and-a-half years after he converted two blank-firing old pistols into lethal weapons.
Judge William Hart reduced the minimum five year term because of Morrell's poor state of health.
Judge Hart had been told that Morrell had a lifelong interest in guns and militaria.
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His father had been a soldier in the Korean war and he himself had been in the ATC as a boy, said his solicitor Leo Goatley.
Morrell pleaded guilty at Gloucester Crown Court to three charges of possessing prohibited firearms – a BBM Italian Olympic 8 blank firing revolver, a Shrewsbury pistol and a Harrington Richards .22 rim tire revolver illegally.
He also admitted converting the blank firing Shrewsbury pistol and the Harrington Richards revolver into firearms when they had previously been incapable of discharging missiles.
And he admitted three charges of possessing firearms and ammunition including 99 .22 long rifle round without a certificate.
Prosecutor Julian Kesner said the weaponry was all found and seized when police raided Morrell's flat on January 6.
Mr Goatley told the court Morrell was from "a different era" – a time when having air guns in country areas like the Forest of Dean was common for young men.
"One of the earliest items of militaria he collected was a George IV memorial sword from the Napoleonic wars," said Mr Goatley.
"He was in the ATC as a teenager. He remembers having a gun licence and like most lads in the Forest he went rabbit shooting."
Morrell had wanted a career in the RAF but his poor eyesight had let him down.
He spent most of his career as a carer, helping adults with learning difficulties and looking after elderly people with dementia.
Throughout his life he had maintained his interest in militaria and built up the collection which had now got him into serious trouble, said Mr Goatley.
He said Morrell has suffered bladder cancer recently although he was now in remission. He was also diabetic and losing his sight in one eye.
Morrell's 92-year-old aunt would suffer while he was in jail because he had been her principal carer and his absence could be "the death knell for her" Mr Goatley warned.
"In addition, his mother is 89 and he travels to Coleford at weekends to do her shopping for her," he added.