A COUPLE who tried to take guns and bullets on a ferry from Jersey to France – and had others stored unsafely in their home – have been spared prison but banned from owning firearms.
Carlos Alberto Pinhoa Aires (51) and his partner, Edite Neves De Oliveira (52), were each given suspended prison sentences in the Royal Court yesterday.
They also had their gun licences revoked, with Deputy Bailiff Robert MacRae telling them: ‘Neither of you are fit and proper persons to be entrusted with firearms.’
Advocate Luke Sette, prosecuting, said the couple had planned to travel through France to Portugal on 25 September last year for a shooting holiday.
They had certificates permitting them to own guns, but did not have official permission to take them off the Island.
A search of their car at Elizabeth Terminal uncovered a Smith & Wesson handgun, a semi-automatic pistol and hundreds of rounds of ammunition in the boot. Aires also had a loaded Smith & Wesson in a satchel by the front seat of his car. He said he had been robbed in France once before and wanted to keep it close for protection.
Both said they were unaware that official permission was needed to take guns out of Jersey.
When the police searched the couple’s home in St Peter afterwards they found more pistols and rifles in the attic, wrapped in beach towels or covered in loft insulation, and more than 3,100 rounds of ammunition, stored in drawers and boxes in their bedroom.
Laws for possessing guns and ammunition state that they must always be stored securely in a locked cupboard, with the key hidden from view. The couple claimed they had been in a rush to go on holiday and had not had time to store all the weapons properly.
But the advocate said: ‘Their slapdash behaviour gave rise to a situation where members of the public were put at risk of harm.’
Aires and De Oliveira admitted the charges of attempting to evade a prohibition on the export of goods, failure to comply with the requirements of a firearms certificate, carrying a firearm in a public place and unlawful possession of a firearm.
Advocate Sette said the ‘custody threshold has been passed’, but accepted that the pair had pleaded guilty early and had no previous convictions. He recommended sentences of 240 hours of community service for each.
Advocate James Bell, defending Aires, and Advocate Paul Nicholls, defending De Oliveira, both called for suspended sentences.
Advocate Bell said: ‘Mr Aires is registered to possess a firearm and is aware of the proper conditions, but he accepts he did not comply with the conditions and very much regrets this.’
Advocate Nicholls added: ‘They are good people. They made a series of very poor decisions. They fell considerably short of the standards required of them.’
The Jurats agreed to the defence advocates’ suggestion and imposed sentences of 18 months each, suspended for two years.
Deputy Bailiff Robert MacRae told them: ‘You were both holders of firearms certificates and you flagrantly disregarded your obligations.
‘You left weapons and ammunition in your home in a wholly unacceptable manner.’
He added: ‘The excuse that you were on a rush to get on holiday we regard as wholly unsatisfactory.
‘Neither of you are fit and proper persons to be entrusted with firearms.’
Aires and De Oliveira were also ordered to pay costs of £750 each.
Jurats Robert Christensen and Karen Le Cornu were sitting.