An American boxing trainer who “carelessly” brought a gun into the UK has walked free from court due to “exceptional circumstances”.
Brian McIntyre, 53, forgot that a Smith and Wesson automatic self-loading pistol was in a zip compartment of his suitcase when he flew in from the US in August.
McIntyre, based in Omaha, Nebraska, and the long-term coach of undefeated world champion Terence Crawford, arrived in this country to prepare British fighter Chris Eubank Jr for his fight with Liam Smith.
Officials at Manchester Airport discovered the firearm, together with seven rounds of ammunition, still in the zip compartment as McIntyre went through security ahead of his return flight on September 3, Manchester Crown Court heard.
After hearing about McIntyre’s work in the community in Omaha, and listening to a number of character witnesses, including Crawford, Judge Nicholas Dean KC, the Honorary Recorder of Manchester, imposed a 20-month jail term, suspended for two years.
McIntyre admitted unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition.
Judge Dean said McIntyre was a “thoroughly good man” and said the “exceptional circumstances” of the case had merited a departure from the usual five-year minimum jail term.
He said: “This is manifestly and obviously a case where it is appropriate to suspend the sentence.”
David Toal, prosecuting, said the gun and ammunition were discovered after it passed through scanners at the airport’s Terminal 2 at just before 9.45am.
McIntyre was arrested and later told police it was a “honest mistake and I deeply regret this”.
In his basis of plea, accepted by the Crown Prosecution Service, the defendant said the gun and ammunition never left his suitcase while he was in the UK.
He had packed the firearm when travelling to Crawford’s training camp ahead of his world title bout with Errol Spence in Las Vegas in late July.
When in Las Vegas he agreed to train Eubank Jr and subsequently flew out to Atalanta and then arrived in Manchester on August 19, the court was told.
His time in Manchester was “extremely busy”, the court heard, as he stayed in two hotels and an AirBnb.
The seasoned traveller was said to be “horrified” when the discovery was made at the airport.
Paul Greaney KC, defending, said McIntyre, known as BoMac, and Crawford, known as Bud, had set up the B&B Sports Academy, a not-for-profit organisation based in Omaha where “gangs and crime are rife”.
He said: “It provides a gym where young people can go for free. The aim is not to just make them good boxers but good people.
“What these two men have established in Omaha is a remarkable achievement.”
Hundreds of pages of testimonials to the good character of McIntyre, who has no previous convictions or cautions, were presented to the judge including from the chief of police in Omaha.
In the public gallery of courtroom 2 were McIntyre’s wife and daughter, as well as Crawford, who had all flown in from the United States.
Crawford entered the witness box and told the court that he had known McIntyre all his life and that he trained him from the age of seven.
Asked to describe McIntyre’s character, he said: “He is a loving, caring, good father figure, a good uncle figure, a grandpa, a husband, a brother.
“He is an anchor in our community.”
He told Mr Greaney that McIntyre was “kind”, “gentle” and “honest” and that both had put their own money into the gym.
Crawford said the academy’s mission was to keep the area’s youth off the streets and away from gangs.
McIntyre was “crucial” to the mission because “he is the main one doing all the work”, said the boxer.
He said: “The kids look at me as the hero. They look at BoMac as the voice. He is the one who is hands on. He is everything.”
Fellow US fighter Stephen Nelson and other academy representatives also gave character evidence from the witness box.
Sentencing McIntyre, who had been in custody since his arrest at the airport, Judge Dean said: “It is clear to me that you have a great deal to be proud of in your life.
“That is self-evidently so since a large number of people have chosen at their own expense to come from the United State to speak about you in a way that has been authentic and impressive if I may say so.
“But you now have something you will be ashamed of for the rest of your life.
“You were sufficiently careless to carry into this country a firearm, a prohibited weapon. You did not know you had done so but when you were leaving this jurisdiction through Manchester Airport that firearm was detected.”
The judge said he accepted McIntyre’s explanation that he had travelled extensively within the US in the days and weeks before his journey to Manchester and had forgotten about the presence of the gun in his luggage.
He went on: “You didn’t know it was there when you were in this country. You didn’t use it in any way.
“You are a man of effective good character, You are testament to the redemptive power of boxing as a discipline. That power is a bit of a cliche but nevertheless manifestly a truth.
“More that your works are a significant power for the good of your community.
“You are, in short, a good man. A thoroughly good man.
“You are a power of good for your community and this world.”
The judge thanked the character witnesses for coming to court and giving “authentic and powerful” evidence which “made a difference to my approach to this case”.
McIntyre was ordered to pay prosecution costs of £1,080.