By Tom Westcott.
London, 12 January:
A Libyan ex-pat living in Scotland who illegally shot a pheasant last summer has told Perth Sheriff . . .[restrict]Court that he assumed that firearms laws in the United Kingdom were the same as in Libya.
Akram Arebi pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm in a public place and shooting a wild bird on private farmland.
According to local newspaper The Courier, Arebi told the court: “The guy who sold me the air rifle in Glasgow told me I didn’t need a licence. I didn’t know I needed permission to go shooting, ” He insisted that he had been honest from the start and did not know about the UK firearms restrictions. “I didn’t know,” he said, “In Libya I don’t need a licence.”
Sherif Lindsay Foulis, who presided over the case, said: “There may be a lack of knowledge on your part but you can’t go around with an air rifle, which is classed as a firearm.”
A spokesperson for the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, Simon Clarke, told the Libya Herald that it was not illegal to buy or own an air rifle in the UK. “Most air guns, at the moment, can be bought by adults without restriction,” Clarke said. “The purchase and possession of a low-powered air rife is not an offence in itself.”
The UK does, however, have strict guidance on the possession of an air rifle in public places, including how this is handled, carried and covered. Clarke explained that when a firearms offence is committed, “it doesn’t matter whether it is committed with an air-gun or an assault rifle, there is no difference in the law.”
Perth Sheriff Court confirmed to the Libya Herald that Akram Arebi was charged with carrying a firearm in a public place, under section 19 of the UK’s Firearms Act 1958. He was given a £300 fine and ordered to forfeit the air rifle and ammunition.
Arebi was also charged with contravening the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 by killing a wild bird. This offence carried with it a further £300 fine.
Akram Arebi was apprehended in June 2012 after a farm-worker noticed an unusual car parked near his employer’s woodland and alerted the police. Arebi was found sitting in the vehicle with an air rifle lying beside him on the front seat. A dead pheasant discovered nearby was x-rayed and found to contain the same ammunition that Arebi’s rifle used.
Arebi told the court that he had purchased the weapon a few weeks earlier in Glasgow for £250. Only a low-powered air rifle could be bought for this sum. A UK firearms expert suggested that Arebi had been “very lucky” to have actually managed to kill a pheasant with such an air rifle, something which he said was quite hard to do.
The Libya Herald has been unable to contact Arebi. [/restrict]