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Help requested re Trespassing with a Firearm

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Help requested re Trespassing with a Firearm

Postby shootist » Sat Aug 12, 2017 11:17 pm

I've been trying to track down a couple of decided cases about trespassing with a firearm. I've had a good look round the CPS site and BAILII, which I find about as user friendly as a rat with rabies, but no luck.

The cases I refer to are not the obvious strolling onto someone else's land with a firearm. The specific situation is when a person armed with a firearm on land where he has permission to shoot lawfully, but the shot or bullet crosses the boundary onto the land of another without permission.

The query is whether this would amount to a criminal offence under Section 20 Firearms Act 1968. I could do with a case or two on the subject. I believe I have read a couple sometime in the past but can't track them down. I'm fairly sure that such an event would constitute a trespass, but both the shooter and the firearm has remained on permitted land. I seem to recall that it should be a criminal offence of trespassing with a firearm, but I need case law to be definitive in that assertion or it's denial.

For clarification nobody I'm aware of has done such a thing, it's just an exercise in understanding the law which once I have an answer I can try and drum into the heads of one of the most legislation averse groups of people I have ever encountered. For a sport where you would think that knowledge of the law is of paramount importance, while they all seem to be determined to keep to the letter of the law and behave as well as they can, when those letters appear they seem to recoil in horror at the thought of actually having to understand the bloody stuff! They all seem to want to know, but show them a decided case or an extract from legislation and they respond like a rabbi being asked to slaughter a pig. (Just my sense of humour, I hope that doesn't upset anyone.)
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." MLK.
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Re: Help requested re Trespassing with a Firearm

Postby atticus » Sun Aug 13, 2017 9:09 am

The offence under s20 Firearms Act 1968 clearly occurs when a person enters land as a trespasser with a firearm.
20 Trespassing with firearm.

(1)A person commits an offence if, while he has a firearm or imitation firearmwith him, he enters or is in any building or part of a building as a trespasser and without reasonable excuse (the proof whereof lies on him).

(2)A person commits an offence if, while he has a firearm or imitation firearm with him, he enters or is on any land as a trespasser and without reasonable excuse (the proof whereof lies on him).

(3)In subsection (2) of this section the expression “land” includes land covered with water.
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Re: Help requested re Trespassing with a Firearm

Postby Rick Ape » Thu Mar 01, 2018 11:33 pm

Have you looked at s.21A Firearms Act 1968?
It's the only offence that springs to mind that involves your scenario, but it is limited to air weapons
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Re: Help requested re Trespassing with a Firearm

Postby gid » Fri Mar 02, 2018 4:40 pm

How about Clifton V Viscount Bury (1887)?
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Re: Help requested re Trespassing with a Firearm

Postby atticus » Fri Mar 02, 2018 5:13 pm

http://www.tutortales.org/wp-content/up ... espass.doc
Clifton v Viscount Bury (1887)
• Person on A property fired bullets over B property, which landed in C property. Lowest bullets were on B’s property is 22.5m.
• HELD: not trespass.

I do not understand the "is 22.5m". I am trying to work out if this is the height these bullets flew over B's land, but surely in 1887 no measurement used in an English court case would have been in metres.
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Re: Help requested re Trespassing with a Firearm

Postby gid » Fri Mar 02, 2018 5:26 pm

https://www.scribd.com/document/264629432/LAWS3111-Case-Notes-Lecture-1-Title-to-Land
Clifton v Viscount Bury (1887)
Facts
An action was brought to restrain the 12th Middlesex Volunteer Corps, of which Viscount Bury was commanding officer, from shooting over a range on Wimbledon-common to the detriment of Major-General Clifton’s land. The plaintiff also sought damages for injury caused by such shooting. The land in question was called Newlands Farm, and it adjoined Wimbledon-common. Clifton alleged that three fields had been injuriously affected by the firing. The defendants admitted to firing bullets from the 600 and 1,000 yard ranges, and at least one of the targets passed over one of the fields on Newlands Farm.
Legal Issues
Was a trespass committed?
Ruling
Hawkins J found in favour of the plaintiff. It was held that the Corps had no statutory privilege under the Putney and Wimbledon Commons Act 1871 (UK) s 51. The sole object of the Act was to deal with the commons as public property, and no power was given to the Conservators to deal with or grant privileges over any lands other than those which formed part of the common. The line of fire over the Newlands Farm did not form part of the common, and s 106 of the Act seemed expressly framed to prevent the land of private owners adjoining the common from being traversed by bullets fired in the course of rifle shooting on the common. The use of the common in such a manner as to cause bullets to fall constantly upon the plaintiff’s land so as to materially interfere with the plaintiff's ordinary use and enjoyment of his farm constituted a series of trespasses of an actionable character. However, Hawkins J found that when the 1,000 yard range was used and the bullets traversed the land at a height of 75ft, it was not a trespass in the strict technical sense of the term. While not a trespass, his Lordship still regarded that grievance as giving rise to a legal cause of action. The bullets traversing the land was not without risk, and it would cause a not unreasonable alarm, which rendered the occupation of that part of the farm less enjoyable than the plaintiff was entitled to have it. This was a legal grievance sufficident to maintain an action. The Corps were not an entity capable of being sued. Viscount Bury could be sued, and was therefore liable to pay damages to Clifton in the amount of 40 shillings, and Hawkins J granted injunctions to prevent future firing of bullets across the land.
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Re: Help requested re Trespassing with a Firearm

Postby Rick Ape » Fri Mar 02, 2018 10:29 pm

I've been pestering an AFO all day and our *considered* opinion is that the reason for the dearth of case law from this (or even the previous century) is that it's not a specific offence. We looked at:
s.20 trespass (nope)
s.19 carrying in public (nope)
Reckless s.1 Criminal Damage Act 1971 (maybe at a long stretch but I'd rather defend than prosecute).

The only thing we came up with was a breach of the firearms certificate's conditions resulting in it being revoked:
s.30A(2)The certificate may be revoked if the chief officer of police has reason to believe—
(a)that the holder is of intemperate habits or unsound mind or is otherwise unfitted to be entrusted with a firearm; or
(b)that the holder can no longer be permitted to have the firearm or ammunition to which the certificate relates in his possession without danger to the public safety or to the peace.


Now, I'm far too new to accuse anyone of having *intemperate habits* but it did make ne chuckle!
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Re: Help requested re Trespassing with a Firearm

Postby Rick Ape » Fri Mar 02, 2018 10:37 pm

*me chuckle
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Re: Help requested re Trespassing with a Firearm

Postby shootist » Sat Mar 03, 2018 9:09 am

gid wrote:https://www.scribd.com/document/264629432/LAWS3111-Case-Notes-Lecture-1-Title-to-Land
Clifton v Viscount Bury (1887)
Facts
An action was brought to restrain the 12th Middlesex Volunteer Corps, of which Viscount Bury was commanding officer, from shooting over a range on Wimbledon-common to the detriment of Major-General Clifton’s land. The plaintiff also sought damages for injury caused by such shooting. The land in question was called Newlands Farm, and it adjoined Wimbledon-common. Clifton alleged that three fields had been injuriously affected by the firing. The defendants admitted to firing bullets from the 600 and 1,000 yard ranges, and at least one of the targets passed over one of the fields on Newlands Farm.
Legal Issues
Was a trespass committed?
Ruling
Hawkins J found in favour of the plaintiff. It was held that the Corps had no statutory privilege under the Putney and Wimbledon Commons Act 1871 (UK) s 51. The sole object of the Act was to deal with the commons as public property, and no power was given to the Conservators to deal with or grant privileges over any lands other than those which formed part of the common. The line of fire over the Newlands Farm did not form part of the common, and s 106 of the Act seemed expressly framed to prevent the land of private owners adjoining the common from being traversed by bullets fired in the course of rifle shooting on the common. The use of the common in such a manner as to cause bullets to fall constantly upon the plaintiff’s land so as to materially interfere with the plaintiff's ordinary use and enjoyment of his farm constituted a series of trespasses of an actionable character. However, Hawkins J found that when the 1,000 yard range was used and the bullets traversed the land at a height of 75ft, it was not a trespass in the strict technical sense of the term. While not a trespass, his Lordship still regarded that grievance as giving rise to a legal cause of action. The bullets traversing the land was not without risk, and it would cause a not unreasonable alarm, which rendered the occupation of that part of the farm less enjoyable than the plaintiff was entitled to have it. This was a legal grievance sufficident to maintain an action. The Corps were not an entity capable of being sued. Viscount Bury could be sued, and was therefore liable to pay damages to Clifton in the amount of 40 shillings, and Hawkins J granted injunctions to prevent future firing of bullets across the land.


Thanks for a very interesting link. It does seem then at least possible to interpret shooting over land without permission could give rise to an offence of trespassing with a firearm. Certainly it would encourage police to try it. It would also support a revocation of a firearms certificate. Given the probability that it happens nearly every day with shotguns it would be interesting to see what the result would be there.
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Re: Help requested re Trespassing with a Firearm

Postby Rick Ape » Sat Mar 03, 2018 4:20 pm

There's also the police exam favourite of injuring, interrupting or endangering a person by discharging a firearm within 50 feet of the centre of a highway. (Regardless of where the bullet went)
s.16(2)(b) Highways Act 1980
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