Walsall Man Has Jail Term Doubled For Gun Offences
5th May 2020
A man who imported blank-firing pistols and converted some into lethal guns in his garden shed has had his jail term doubled after West Midlands Police appealed the initial sentence was too lenient.
Robert Bartell bought firearms, including self-loading pistols manufactured in Turkey and Italy, from a Spanish website and test-fired them in his back garden.
Police attended his Cambridge Street, Walsall home on 28 November last year after police intelligence suggested he was importing blank-firers.
They can be sold legally on the Continent but are illegal to sell and possess in the UK.
A search of the property revealed six handguns, including some which he had converted to fire live rounds in his shed workshop using a table drill and disc cutter, plus 23 adapted 9mm blank rounds retro-fitted with ball bearings or lead shots.
Police also found lengths of steel tubing, a 5kg bag of lead shot and damaged books which the 54-year-old had used as targets to test-fire the weapons.
In interview Bartell said he converted the pistols as a personal technical challenge and had no intention to sell viable firearms to criminals.
But he went on to admit four counts of possessing prohibited weapons, two of possessing banned ammunition, and possessing a sawn-off shotgun which was also found.
He was jailed for two-and-a-half years at Wolverhampton Crown Court in February.
Police did not think that was a tough enough sentence for someone who imported banned guns into the country and was trying to convert them into live-firing handguns.
Officers initiated an approach to the Court of Appeal and on 1 May 2020 judges agreed it was too lenient and ordered Bartell's sentence be doubled 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.
"We made those feelings known to the Court of Appeal and I am 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.