Angler jailed for illegal air rifle


Anglers and fishery owners who use guns to control rodent populations have been dealt a severe warning this week after a carp fisherman was jailed for nine months at Stafford Crown Court after admitting possessing an illegal firearm.

Steven Fisher, from Tamworth in the West Midlands, carried the high-powered gun in his fishing gear to shoot rats while on the bank, but was shocked when police seized it while searching his home in conjunction with a domestic incident.

The 35-year-old, formerly of Kerria Road, Amington, bought the .22 rifle at a car boot sale for £500 and fitted it with a telescopic sight and silencer.

When tested by firearms officers from Staffordshire police, the gun was discovered to be so powerful that it could cause serious injury to humans, and, as such, required a firearms certificate to own legally.

Many fishery owners and anglers use air rifles to control ‘pest’ species such as rats and rabbits, but not all of them probably know that if the weapon’s power exceeds 12ft per pound then a firearms certificate is required. Lindholme Lakes owner Neil Grantham has such a document, but the Sandtoft, north Lincolnshire venue boss says that it’s very difficult to obtain.

“It’s a three to six-month process and you receive a home visit as you have to convince authorities that you need the weapon. I think a nine-month prison sentence is a bit over the top in this instance. But a .22 air rifle is as powerful as a bullet gun and could kill you at a range of 50yds,”said Neil. 

Dave Ostapiuk, fishery manager at Bluebell Lakes in Oundle, Northamptonshire, one of the most popular day-ticket specimen carp waters in the country, questioned why the angler was in possession of the weapon in the first place.

“We banned anglers from bringing guns on to the Bluebell complex several years ago, as they started off shooting rats before things got a bit out of hand. It’s dangerous, especially if there are dogs or young people about,” said Dave.